This month we are highlighting strengthening families and our blog story comes from Tiffany Saathoff who is the Families Pastor at Destiny Christian Church, the co-director of Destiny Community Center and serves as the Strengthening Families Leader for the Regional Alliance with her husband, Eric. While there are many ways to support and strengthen families, often one of the most natural means of influence is through parenting resources. Here is one story that shows the ripple effect healthy relationships can have on kids and families:
“Darla and Johnny attended church every Sunday as a family with their four beautiful children. While on the outside it looked like they had everything together, no one was aware of the heartache and pain deep inside. As a child, Johnny had endured much hurt and abuse. Left unresolved, Johnny struggled with marriage and parenting. Soon his picture-perfect life came crashing down.
After having so many emotionally and relationally hard days between them, the only thing Darla could think to do at the time was to take her children and leave Johnny. It wasn't an easy decision. Darla knew the importance of family and worried what her decision meant for her children and their relationship with their father.
While Darla recalls having very little hope for weeks after she left, Johnny reached out for help knowing that separation from his wife and limited visitations with his children was not what he wanted. In the months to come men from Johnny’s church really wrapped around him and started pouring into his life on a consistent basis. By experiencing the benefits of close, consistent and healthy relationships with these mentors and friends, Johnny began making positive changes.
And Darla noticed.
A little further down the road, Johnny heard about a co-parenting class at his church and wanted to go. He asked Darla to join him and she reluctantly agreed, still wondering if the changes she saw in Johnny were just temporary. Through the three-week class Johnny and Darla realized that although they disagreed on many things, they agreed on one very important thing: they both loved their kids. In the process of attending this class, God started speaking to Darla and restoring hope in her marriage. God was clearly working on their behalf and using their community to guide them towards the restoration their family needed. Darla and Johnny came to the conclusion that if they could agree on being great parents and loving their kids, they could also learn to agree on other things. Multiple families came along-side Johnny and Darla in this process to provide free childcare for a weekly date night, mentorship for Johnny, as well as tutoring and tangible items for the kids. Now, over two years later, Johnny and Darla have a restored relationship and a marriage that has grown stronger through this challenge. What very easily could have been another hurting and broken family, became a moving story of God's grace, redemption and care for His children!”
Because of the impact of strong relationships and support in Johnny life during the time of separation along with the Godly perspective they gained in community, Darla and Johnny have been empowered to do what it takes to strengthen their family and set an example of what a healthy relationship looks like for their children and all those who know them!