Every once in a while, we try to share something about what this “INFO for Families” thing is all about. I think the best way to do that is to offer you a transparent picture of our family life.
Perhaps my thoughts are being driven by a few conversations Jenifer and I have had with people in recent days. We have been stunned by the impressions people have of what life must be like in the home of someone in full-time family ministry. For some reason, there are those who have a picture of the Johnsons having hours-long family devotions every night, weekend foot-washing sessions, and an endless stream of generous acts of service performed by our kids to one another and to us. They imagine a perfect marriage and perfect kids and a natural, easy submission by all of us to God’s every directive for our lives.
What a bunch of hooey.
Impressions like this are both inaccurate and unfair. We (like you) are just normal people with the same struggles and issues that are common to every family. We are seeking God and His very best in everything we do, but it is never easy. And it rarely works out like we plan.
So, again, allow me to springboard from those thoughts to my reason for writing today: to remind all of us why we are so committed to “INFO for Families.”
It is because all of our families are IMPERFECT. We all have problems.
It is because most of our families are NORMAL. No matter how bizarre our struggles are, there is a very high likelihood that others have struggled with the same things.
And it is because we are all FAMILIES in need of the grace and hope and direction that ONLY Christ can give us.
Our ministry is designed to help IMPERFECT & NORMAL FAMILIES ONLY. That includes every one of us.
(For those readers who may have missed it, when you combine the first letter of the four big words above, you get INFO. I assume that most of you have figured that out by now, but it’s really rare for an acronym to work out so nicely and I was really proud of myself for that little beauty.)
So why do we try so hard to offer helpful resources and insights on parenting and marriage? Because we need the help. OUR family is imperfect and normal. We struggle in the same ways you do. Don’t believe me? Allow me to make a few honest statements that I have listed below. Hopefully, these fifteen “confessions” will encourage you a bit in the middle of your own family challenges.
Some Honest Confessions of a Marriage and Family "Expert"
1. At the Family Ministry Guy’s house, there are good days and bad days. There are times of joy and seasons of intense sorrow. We know God is close but sometimes He feels far away.
2. Jenifer and I have a great marriage, but it is far from perfect. We fight. We cry. We often frustrate one another. However, I am proud to say that we have never considered divorce. Murder, yes. Divorce, no.
3. Our five kids have five unique personalities that leave no room for "one size fits all" parenting. We all have very different temperaments. Annoying each other comes very naturally. Patience and understanding are virtues that God is still teaching us; we are not always very good learners.
4. Our kids are probably a lot like your kids. They are normal. They don’t like homework. They fight over food, the computer, and who gets to sit in the front seat. They probably watch too much TV.
5. Our house is often messy. If you have been to my house, found it to be unusually tidy and don’t believe it is ever dirty, it’s because we knew you were coming. If you show up unannounced, you’re likely to see lots of clutter. Note to readers: we love you…but do not show up at our house unannounced.
6. There are moments when we all feel very close to one another. But there are plenty of times when it feels like we are simply roommates living in the same space. I don’t like those times.
7. When I ask my children to clean their rooms or unload the dishwasher, they do not say, “Of course, dear father, I would love to.” Instead, they usually whine. It is often accompanied by eye-rolling. Of an epic scale.
8. In our marriage, we tend to have the same arguments over and over again. It seems there are some issues and habits that we (and by “we,” I mean “me”) can never seem to overcome.
9. My teenagers struggle with their emotions and finding their identity and with fitting in. Why? Because they are teenagers. Sometimes I think Dobson was on to something when he said that “our goal is just to get them through it.”
10. My kids love Jesus but they are not spiritual giants. There are times when they have incredible spiritual insights and there are times when it seems they “just don’t get it.” They are slowly taking ownership of their faith, and that is a process.
11. While Jenifer and I teach a lot of marriage principles in a lot of different settings, we still make stupid mistakes in how we manage our relationship. There are many times we find ourselves thinking: “We should know better.” Just because we teach something, it doesn’t mean we have mastered it. We’re more like Anakin and less like Yoda. (That was for all the nerds out there.)
12. When we as parents try to share a nugget of wisdom with the kids, they might be listening, but I’m not so sure. Their eyes often glaze over. But occasionally we will hear them repeat to someone else what they have heard from us…which is nice.
13. I pray for my kids, but not near enough. This is a significant shortcoming in my role as father.
14. Thankfully, Jenifer and I know a deeper love now than we knew 26 years ago when we married. Life has become more complicated and difficult, which has forced us to cling closer to one another and closer to God. This has been a very good thing. And it beats the alternative. In marriage, fight is better than flight most every time.
15. Finally, the shortcomings, failures and daily struggles in our home remind us over and over again that we are desperately in need of the grace and power of God in our lives. The longer I live, the more I need Him.
So there are fifteen honest confessions from an Imperfect & Normal Family just like yours.
I hope that they give you a little window into my heart and some insight into why I believe in the ministry we are called to. I pray that you’ll keep reading what we write and take advantage of the resources we create. And we always appreciate it when you “like” this on Facebook or share a post with friends.
Let’s be intentional with our family life this school year. Let’s start by asking God to do in us what we absolutely cannot do on our own…to powerfully draw each of us closer to Himself.
Confession number 16 is that we need to depend on Him more. Pray that we will. As members of an IMPERFECT and NORMAL FAMILY, He is truly our ONLY hope.