Are You a Sweeper?

    I turned the TV on last night while getting ready for bed and saw parts of an old rerun of King of Queens. In this episode, Carrie (the wife) learns that Doug’s (the husband) parents’ dog, Rocky, is 28 years old. Having a hard time believing that, she inquired further, only to learn from his mother that this particular dog was actually Rocky IV, who was only a few years old, unbeknownst to Doug. The previous three Rockys all died, but they didn’t want to “upset Doug”, so they just replaced him….every time, and pretended the replacement to be the original. Carrie informed Doug, who in turn, became angry with her for revealing an unwelcomed truth. He explained that in his family, “We don’t talk about unpleasant or uncomfortable things.”
    “What do you do with the truth, then Doug?”
    “We sweep it under the rug, where it belongs!”
    With all the exaggeration for the sake of humor, the Heffernan family is not far from reality for many people. It’s amazing how many prefer to live a life of denial. Denial of their problems, their sin, their past, present and their future. It’s a lot easier in the short run to just deny that there is a problem. But in the long run, denial leads to a lifetime of destructive reactions and behavior. You can never solve a problem you are unwilling to acknowledge.
    Some years ago, I became more and more aware of disturbing attitudes and behaviors of two boys whose parents were very involved in our church, and personal friends of mine. I met with the parents on more than one occasion and shared my concerns, offering to help. The father was polite, the mother became increasingly annoyed. She eventually told me to “mind my own business.” I responded as I always do in that situation, explaining that I am an involved shepherd. Problems for sheep I’ve been given responsibility for are my concern. “If you don’t want me to be involved in your life, you should not attend the church where I am the shepherd, because I take this responsibility seriously.” They assured me their kids were fine and that it was my “parenting philosophy” that was the problem.
    I really wish the above story turned out differently (and many similar stories did). The last I knew, both boys became drug addicts while still in high school. Both were paying child support to women who they had never had a relationship with, other than the act of getting them pregnant. Neither had been able to hold a steady job or show any interest in God, in church or Christianity.  While I don’t blame the parents for the boys’ choices, the parents’ denial of apparent problems while these kids were young, and unwillingness to get help, led to their destruction.
    We all have problems. Pretending that everything is fine, or talking ourselves into believing “our problems” are not that serious, only exacerbates those problems. The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge it, and then to be open to get help from godly people who can share Biblical solutions.
    If your marriage is in the early stages of trouble, now is the time to get help! If you are sensing difficulty in those early teen years, reach out for a godly parent who has gone through these years before you. If your spiritual zeal is starting to wane, open up to your life group (if you don’t have one––get in one!).
    We don’t come to church to impress each other! We come here for help…to give it and receive it! But you have to start by acknowledging the truth.

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