george hancockstefanOne day, I was listening to a person who came for some advice. The situation was so complicated that we prayed and I asked to meet with the person again. In the same week, I went to see the second Hobbit movie. In the opening scene as the hobbit and his entourage were entering the forest, I thought that many people have their lives as twisted and torn as that forest.

Over two decades ago, I was invited to officiate at a funeral where the dead parent had four children. Of the four children, one left the family many years ago and never called his parents again. Another one did not agree with his father over some issue and decided that he will never see his father again, dead or alive, even though he lived less than 100 miles away. The two children that came disagreed with the living parent about everything – type of casket, place of burial, place where to have the post funeral lunch, etc. I do not think I heard many sentences in one accord in that family.

I am aware that on this side of heaven, we will not have a constantly harmonious life, but what shocks me is when I meet people in whose lives I can rarely find anything harmonious.

I listen to parents who tell me that they deeply loved their kids and provided everything they wanted. They never lacked anything. Indeed they provided everything, except discipline. They were never denied anything, they were never told no, and when they grew up, suddenly no one loved them as much as they needed. They went from friendship to friendship and from relationship to relationship because they never felt sufficiently loved.

Or on the opposite side one finds children who tell horror stories. They were told that they were not wanted. Their birth was a mistake. The children interfered with their plans, pleasure, and travels. They cannot remember their fathers ever coming to their games, concerts, or award nights. Their mother was always involved in something else – friends, the bottle, or drugs. The children left the house as soon as they were able.


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Then I talk with the siblings. The statement of the 70’s that perception is reality is a messy description. I listened to one gentleman who told me that if I listen to his brother who was one year older than him, I would find out that their father was a tyrant. But for me, he told me, my father was a hard working man, demanding a lot, but also loving us to pieces. My brother has erased the loving part and has this monster for a father who is being blamed for all the shortcomings of my brother.

What I find in most situations where lives were twisted and vitiated is that there were no absolutes. No one ever knew when the parents or the children were coming or going. No one knew the importance of telling the truth or abhorring lies. Their lifestyles were always on the precipice and even though there were happy moments, there was never any certainty.

When I think that I have figured things out, I am reminded of a line that James Dobson has written, “From the wicked house of Saul, came Jonathan who David loved more than any other human being and from the house of David, the man according to God’s heart, came Absalom who rebelled against his father and almost singlehandedly destroyed the kingdom of Israel. Human relationships continue to be the most beautiful and the most painful realities on this side of heaven.”

I am praying that your home will produce healthy relationships and when they are not in this category, that you will have the resources to change and the power to forgive one another in order to move forward as a loving family.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...