Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Family: Made to Stick

(This post begins a new series of reflections that follow the weekly messages in worship at PPC)

Let’s just call this post exactly what it is: shameless use, or borrowing if you will, of someone else’s work.

Of course, the ideas are being adapted and modified for my own purposes. And I’m not going to take credit for something someone else did. But the fact of the matter is we’re starting a new series of messages on the family just as I'm in the middle of a book that has nothing to do with the family. The book, which deals with communicating ideas in the business world, is Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (yes, they’re brothers).

You can probably see where this is going. In recent days my mind has been anticipating the work of thinking and writing about the family. At the same time I’ve been reading Made to Stick. Family . . . made to stick . . . family . . . made to stick. The convergence was inevitable, even a little obvious.

We were made to stick. At creation God saw that it was not good for the man to be solitary among all created beings. What’s more, God understood that lions and chipmunks could not provide adequate company for the human soul. So God made another person, a suitable companion. The intent was that they would become one flesh – in every sense of that phrase. In doing so they would bring into the world other beings just like themselves and they would be a family (Genesis 2:24).

We were made for connection with others. The family is God’s design for that web of connectedness. Every human soul is coated with a kind of spiritual adhesive. Again, borrowing from the Heath brothers, we were “made to stick.” That’s simple enough. At least it should be.

Marnie and I just recently began repainting the trim in our kitchen. As a part of that project I ran painters’ tape along the baseboards, around windows, along the crown molding. After priming and painting half the kitchen Marnie was eager to see the finished look. When she pulled away the painters tape she was less than pleased to see that wallpaper was being ripped from the wall. This job just got much larger.

We were made to stick, not rip. But family life is hard, and sometimes we damage those closest to us. Without realizing it, often without intending it, we rip and tear the most intimate connections of our lives.

This series is an invitation to embrace the varied rhythms of family life. You may need to work at the “stickiness” of your family life: getting connected, cultivating deeper intimacy. You may need to repair what’s been damaged, tend to the scars inflicted on the ones to whom you were “made to stick.” It’s a delicate balance, a constant rhythm of moving toward and stepping back, being close and allowing space.

Think for a moment about your own family. Where are you in that rhythm today?

Creator God, in your grace and wisdom you made us for connection with others. You placed us in families and then called us to live as people who reflect your love. This is a high and difficult calling. At times we feel “stuck with” those whom you’ve given us to love. In these coming days help us to connect as you intended and teach us how to mend what has been damaged. Amen.

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