middle of the Tiger Woods scandal. The consequences of his actions upon their
lives will only be seen years down the road. Of course, I am referring to his
Family breakdown is not limited to
celebrities or the rich and famous. I know this all too well.
Growing up in a middle-class home
where there were nine divorces between my mother, father and step-father, I sat
front row and center and watched addiction, discord and conflict tear my family
My parents were separated when I was
three and divorced when I was nine, and my mom remarried someone 32 years older
My dad made ends meet as a bartender
for more than 50 years, and my mom struggled with alcoholism. As a teenager, I
saw my dad for a few hours twice a month.
My story may seem to be an extreme
example of family dysfunction, but it’s not unique. It has been widely reported
that roughly half the marriages in America end in divorce. According to learn-about-alcoholism.com,
about 43 percent of the adults in this country have a family history of
Clearly, tens of millions of U.S.
households endure the pain of family dysfunction. Sadly, in many cases, the
children suffer tragic consequences.
In Exodus 20:5, God sees the
destructive patterns that parents inadvertently pass on
to their children. Vicious cycles begin, and ultimately the children pay the
price for poor parental choices.
But there is a path to healing for
Tiger Woods’ family and others like it. Tens of millions of families around the
world, including mine, have found that four words point them in the right
direction: integrity, forgiveness, wisdom and discipline.
- Integrity is the
foundation for every decent relationship. When the family breaks down, there is
only one way to rebuild it. Unless we are honest with those we love, we cannot
repair the damage. Integrity leads to trust, and trust is the most essential
quality in any relationship. God trusts a heart of integrity (see 1 Kings 9:4,
5), and if He trusts a good heart, most others will as well.
- Forgiveness allows us
to break free from the bitterness of the past and to embrace the hope for a
better future (Luke 6:37). Bitterness and lack of forgiveness are the poisons
we drink hoping that someone else will die. The one who winds up dead, though,
is the one who consistently sips the poison. In order to break the cycle, we
must choose to forgive (regardless of whether we stay in the relationship or
not) in order to become healthy. Forgiveness isn’t just letting the other person
off the hook. It releases us from the toxic emotions that keep us in a cycle of
pain and agony.
- Just because we embrace
integrity and forgiveness doesn’t ensure that we will make wise choices along
the way. That is why wisdom is so important. God offers His wisdom freely to
all who ask for it (James 1:5). Being wise
enables us to make the best choices for our families and loved ones, and it
enables us to make the choices that will bring healing in the most effective
- Finally, when faced
with adversity, we need to find the discipline (strength) to put into practice
what we know is good and wise. Every person needs Godly strength in order to
overcome temptation, discouragement, depression, and, yes, even addiction.
Whether you’re Tiger Woods or an average person, you need God’s help.
If Tiger and his wife (and every other
married couple in America) put into practice these principles, they will move
well beyond the barriers that have afflicted their marriage. And they will usher in a whole new era of
blessing for the greatest assets they have, their two precious children.
Since 1995, my family has made huge
strides in overcoming the dysfunction that paralyzed us. My mom began a
relationship with God that empowered her to break the chains of alcoholism and
addiction. If my family can break the barriers that held us back, there is hope
for every family that yearns for a new day.
Jason Frenn is the
author of Breaking the Barriers: Overcoming Adversity and Reaching Your