MissionYear is a group that supports urban immersion lifestyles for young, 20-something types in major cities across our country. Their program is an amazingly creative way to immerse in diverse cultural “norms”; and, learn how to Love God and Love People outside of the comforts of one’s home-based “normals”.
This past weekend MissionYear hosted a marriage retreat. Fifteen urban couples gathered in Chicago to look deep into our relationship joys and challenges. It was a 3-day facilitated event, sharing our victories and ongoing struggles. A time to celebrate marriage, own our “relationship stuff” and also craft a reboot plan in areas where we felt we needed improvement.
There were no spoken fix-all plans given (yea!). Our hours were filled with times of honest sharing and raw vulnerability around what was going well and what was not working. My hub and I found it a deep and meaningful spiritual experience.
One point I would like to share from our conversation was that usually, only 30% of conflict areas within marriages ever get fully resolved… that stat gave everyone a collective sigh of relief. From it, we could garner the courage to say that some of our issues might never get fully resolved within our relationships. Yet, we remain, committed and persevering on our relational/family journeys.
Another conversation area we spent time pressing into was modern gender roles and dividing home/work responsibilities. Everyone attending had some faith-based heritage. Yet, many faith-oriented marriage materials are written with roles that lean towards a more agrarian-centered culture. They just don’t seem very helpful or relevant to many of us in our current family and urban settings.
Most all of us felt that our modern culture with its varying demands, technology, increased mobility and the multitude of choices makes everything in our lives... well, way more complicated! These complications look different for everyone, but they mainly arise from the way that dominant economic and social systems have developed. Those systems now pull us from our home-based neighborhoods in so many directions. For example, many moms now feel like they have to navigate similar to air traffic controllers with scheduling activity logistics for family members to get where they need to be each day with the necessary supplies. Coordinating work and school schedules, homework, transportation, meal planning/shopping, church groups, and sports or creative activities feels like a small job in and of itself. Also, many families who have relocated for employment, or some type of calling, no longer have any extended family members close to help with childcare, health/illness support, or pet-care responsibilities. That creates additional life strain.
Because I read a lot about culture and deeply ponder how modern community and gender roles relate together within the faith-based arena, I wanted to share three of my favorite corresponding books (pictured above). I have found these “reads” pivotal in helping me to look at my role as a woman, wife and mom in this century and hone a life posture that doesn’t always fit within traditional church or agrarian gender “norms”. They also address the busy-ness of life in our mobile modern world and trying to live fully “with” those you love.
I honestly haven’t found too much modernized, culturally relevant material in my faith-based research to recommend. So, might any of you on this journey have any favorite books or materials that you would like to share? I especially appreciated hearing perspectives from our leaders of color at the weekend retreat; so, I would also love materials by authors of color.
In closing, a very BIG THANKS to our MissionYear facilitators and all who shared the realness of living and loving in marriage/family life within your beloved urban environs. Our time together was rich, rewarding and sacred!