By Janet Walgren
In a lecture at BYU, historian author, David McCullough stated:
One of the hardest, and I think the most important, realities of history to convey to students or readers of books or viewers of television documentaries is that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened. Any great past event could have gone off in any number of different directions for any number of different reasons….Very often we are taught history as if it were predetermined, and if that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did. We think that there had to have been a Revolutionary War, that there had to have been a Declaration of Independence, that there had to have been a Constitution, but never was that so. In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do.
BYU Magazine, Winter 2006.
I fully agree and some what disagree with his thesis. History didn’t have to happen that way. I absolutely believe that. One of the greatest gifts that God gave to each of his children is agency. Agency allows for choice; we are free to choose our destiny and consequently the destiny of nations. History is a matter of choice. However, choice is bigger than this world, and history began before we arrived at this stop on our eternal journey. History is eternal in nature and God, being the omniscient being that he is, perfectly understood the nature of each of his children before he sent them on their journey to mortality. God understood how we would use our agency and so, before the world began; he prepared contingency plans to correct the course of individuals, families and nations.
It is a common belief that when God wants something to happen, a baby is born. I call these special babies “Transition Children.” There are many famous transition people that the world commonly accepts to have been foreordained to alter the course of history. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph are just a few that are mentioned in the Bible. Then there were the wonderful men and women of the reformation whose blood paved the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gandhi altered the history of India, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence altered the course of The United States of America. All were brave transition people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude and service.
Why is it that a concept that is so commonly accepted when applied to religion or to history is not very well accepted when applied to individuals or the family? Why is it that learned men of science, psychologists, and doctors of psychiatry tell us that labeling is bad and yet every word that proceeds out of their mouths label individuals, project behaviors, and predict outcomes that stifle the productive righteous use of agency in the people they purport to help?
Think about the messages that you have heard; “Children in broken homes”… go ahead; you can finish the sentence – “are much more likely to become drug addicts, alcoholics, immoral and predestine to divorce than children in a ‘normal’ family.” In other words, divorce produces defective goods. I am not so sure that I agree with that thesis. I believe that the behaviors that caused the divorce cause the damage. I believe that the negative behaviors that are attributed to divorce would still manifest if the marriage had remained in tact and the causal behaviors that contributed to the divorce remained unchecked.
Frequently women allow their children to be abused because of their own dependency needs. These women claim to be co-victims of the abuser. I say nay. You are not co-victims with your children; you are co-abusers with your husbands! Your family is broken and if you can’t check the abusive behavior in your marriage, then you need to fix your broken family by getting a divorce.
Ultimately, healing from abuse in the Lord’s way involves leaving behind false and destructive family beliefs, traditions, loyalties, or even ties when they serve to disregard the sanctity of life… when one has the power mentally and physically to protect one’s self or other vulnerable people (children, elderly, handicapped), one has the right and the responsibility to do so, even if it means the disruption of family relationships.
Strengthening Our Families, pg 273.
I once heard of a young woman who asked her counselor why some little girls come into families that love and treasure them while other little girls come into families where they are terribly abused. This inspired counselor told her that she had come into a family that had destroyed the human spirit and the virtue of man for generations. He told her that she had volunteered to come to that family as a transition child and that from her would spring a nation, a posterity of righteous individuals who would honor God and love and nurture their children. She had volunteered to endure abuse to change the course of history.
Why it is so hard for children of divorce to accept that “that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened?” Why is the good behavior of children in single parent families labeled an anomaly, deviant and overcompensating? Who are the teachers that teach us that history is predetermined? “If that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did.” We know that, “In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do.“ BYU Magazine, Winter 2006. Why not apply the transition child theory to individuals and families as well?