“Every generation has its life-defining moments,” wrote Susan Gregory Thomas recently in the Wall Street Journal. “If you want to find out what it was for a member of the Greatest Generation, you ask: ‘Where were you on D-Day?’ For baby boomers, the questions are: ‘Where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ or ‘What were you doing when Nixon resigned?’
“For much of my generation—Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980—there is only one question: ‘When did your parents get divorced?’ Our lives have been framed by the answer. Ask us. We remember everything.”
So starts a powerful article titled “The Divorce Generation.” My boss here at FamilyLife is Bob Lepine, co-host of the FamilyLife Today radio program, and when he sent me a link to the article he commented, “This may be the best picture of today’s young couples that I’ve read.” I agree.
When I was growing up, few of my friends had parents who were divorced. But for the next generation it was a different story. As Thomas writes, “Our suburb was littered with sad-eyed, bruised nomads, who wandered back and forth between used-record shops to the sheds behind the train station where they got high and then trudged off, back and forth from their mothers’ houses during the week to their fathers’ apartments every other weekend.”
When she grew up and got married herself, Thomas looked back at the damage from her parents’ breakup and declared, “Whatever happens, we’re never going to get divorced.”
And with those words, you know how the story will end. She and her husband are determined to make their marriage work, but in the end they drift apart and become nothing more than “wretched, passive-aggressive roommates.” In the end she’s left with the hope that her divorce will somehow not damage her children like she was hurt by her parents.
It’s a sad story, but it’s worth reading. I was left thinking that this was a marriage of two people who wanted to stay together, but didn’t know how to do it. And they evidently didn’t know where to turn for help.
“Harassed and helpless”
I wonder how many of us realize that we live in neighborhoods full of couples like this—stuck in marriages of (in the words of Henry David Thoreau) “quiet desperation.” This offers us a tremendous opportunity to proclaim the love, forgiveness, and salvation offered by Jesus Christ.
Matthew 9 records:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (verses 35-38)
People today are still “harassed and helpless,” and the harvest is as plentiful as it was in the days of Christ. Realizing this, FamilyLife is making a greater effort than ever before to encourage and equip people like you to become HomeBuilders—people who will become laborers in the harvest.
As part of our new HomeBuilder Movement, we’ve created a toolbox of resources and ministry opportunities, including:
- Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway: You can get involved by bringing a group of friends or church members.
- The Art of Marriage™ video event: Thousands of couples are hosting video events in their communities.
- The HomeBuilders Couples Series®: A popular small-group series for couples for over 20 years.
- eMentoring: An opportunity to help hurting individuals through the Internet.
- Preparing for Marriage: An effective curriculum for engaged couples used each year by thousands of pastors, counselors, and lay couples.
These resources were created for Christians who want to have an impact beyond themselves—people who are willing to “Grab a tool, change a home, and change the world.” You don’t need a seminary education, just a willingness to serve and to reach out to a world full of couples who are looking for answers.