The Words of the McLackand Family

Interview of Ursula McLackland Director of the Asia Region Blessed Family Department

February 2014

Question: What went into your decision to cover such serious issues?

Actually, when this session was designed, it came to me that Cheon Il Guk building is really family building. There is no way we can accomplish Cheon Il Guk without having Cheon Il Guk families -- happy, loving families; and perhaps we are often so busy witnessing, so busy with our activities, that even though in theory we support this statement, in practice, we perhaps do not put enough resources, time or thought into what we can do to help our families solve their problems. That was the rationale for setting up this session.

In detail, some of our resource persons, in this case it was Rev. Yong, started brainstorming on how We might use the time effectively and not just present a lecture, which would just make people sleepy. We wanted to wake them up, shake them up a bit and say, Wow! This is important. So he started brainstorming different issues.

I think many of us were surprised by the outcome, that violence... Honestly, as a moderator, a facilitator, I hadn't automatically connected violence to sexual problems but somehow I felt pushed that among the many problems that could be dealt with, I thought first we should discuss the issue of sex and then the issue of violence.

Somehow it came out how closely they are connected together. Actually, I started cutting out many of the other topics we had had in mind -- financial issues, this or that -- because I felt these seem to be the key issues and they are related to the Fall and reversing the effects of the Fall. So, rather than rushing through a host of problems and not being able to deal with this in detail, I thought, okay, let's cut it down to what is the essence.

Question: Were you aware of family violence as a significant topic for our blessed families?

Yes. In one of the recent BFD meetings, one of the counselors in Europe had said to me (in a way, it's a shocking statement), that all the problems they have in the fallen world, we have in our first generation and even in our second-generation families -- rape, abuse, addiction.

She said that everything -- even suicide -- is there. That woke me up. I thought, Wow, we have serious issues to deal with. Murder was also mentioned. Anything they have in the fallen world, we do have it -- hopefully not to the same level or with the same frequency, but it's there. Even for me, it was shocking that it's even in second-generation families. This means we have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of work to do if we are talking about Cheon Il Guk as a reality.

Question: Is there a system for dealing with family problem of so serious a nature?

I am very encouraged by Rev. Yong, who came to Asia and started this kind of couple communication workshop, which I heard from countries where he did it, really helped couples with serious problems. I hope we can expand it. We can learn from it so that in the future, we can conduct it ourselves. We can't ask Rev. Yong to conduct every workshop. We hope he can set a model or an example, which we can inherit.

Question: Could our second-generation couples getting blessed without having spent much time together be a factor?

That is where I feel the element of faith comes in. I really liked the way the Japanese leader broke it down -- that the blessing starts with faith and then you have to develop in stages, coming to the point of love. Couples need to realize that it's a process. You can't jump from faith to love.

He said many second-generation couples may put love first, but the danger is that if the element of faith is not there in the beginning, when they don't feel love at a given moment, they can easily give up. I think faith is what will help us to go through rough times and to go through the stages of getting to know each other, dealing with everything, including the shortcomings, coming to understand each other, have compassion and then trusting each other that we can work through it, so that we can then come to the ideal, which actually is to deeply love each other and appreciate each other.

Question: Each country seems to have its own approach. Is there any proposal that we will develop a more unified way of addressing issues?

So far, we have developed international standards for the process of matching, but of course the parents' matching is very much in the parents' dominion, under the parents' authority, so the BFD cannot say that this is what you can and cannot do. Rather they have recommended guidelines, and these have proven helpful. Ultimately, though, it's up to the parents to decide.

I think we still need to learn how the BFD can operate on a global level, learn from each other, help each other and support each other to come up with more guidelines.

Question: My impression is that many second- generation members get together on their own in Korea and then go to their parents.

That could be. I don't know enough about Korea, but that falls under parents matching, not Cheon Il Guk matching. Officially we have two standards -- Cheon Il Guk matching and parents' matching.

I don't know much about how parents handle it in Korea, but I was very happy to learn about the Parents Matching Convocations. America sent their resource persons to Asia to model it, to teach us, so that we can inherit it. I loved it. It was really an eye-opener that it starts with educating the parents before the children even enter the matching process; we must educate the parents. Europe is doing that. Japan is doing that. They have been trying to pass this tradition on to South America -- maybe even Africa, Oceania, Asia and I think the Northeast region. We are trying to learn and I think it is a wonderful resource.

Question: Do you use a matching web site in the Asia region?

So far, not so much. Of course, parents can connect to the web site and some parents do use it. We still have a rather small number in the second generation in Asia that are ready for matching. But I would say that at least fifty or more percent have used other resources trying to find a suitable spouse.

Question: Is it universally done that, to avoid complications, parents meet about a possible match before the children even had knowledge of it?

It's a basic guideline that parents first communicate and discuss a possible match and once they agree, the can introduce the children to each other. I think it's an ideal if the children have the necessary level of faith and the parents have the level of communication and understanding of what the child wants. But through the parents matching convocation and my own experience I think we also have to be able to respond to the child's own faith and in some cases the child wants to be involved in some level and that this is part of the matching. I like the family matching worksheet and plan that the family discusses the process with the child. How do we want to go about it? At which level does the child want to be involved? Who are the matching advisors or the people we want to involve in the matching process with our child. Even in one family it may not be the same for each child. I feel with have to respond to the child's maturity, level of faith and input.

Question: You mentioned the child's faith. What might be done for children whose faith is mainly absent but are willing to be blessed?

My own experience is that when children do not want to disappoint the parents the child may not say anything about what he or she has in mind or may not even think about getting blessed.

The parents select someone and the child realizes the person is almost the opposite of what he or she might like. The child cannot handle it. That is when many faith issues, many communication issue between parents and child come up.

At some point, it may even hurt the child's level of faith that the parent doesn't understand what the child needs or wants. That's why I find the family matching handbook and worksheet useful. The parents and children think about it earlier and don't only think, "I'm a good child when I say nothing. Parents, you do it completely for me."

In that case, the outcome is complete miscommunication and misunderstanding -- different concepts. I feel it is much more helpful for parents and children -- before they begin looking for the spouse -- to communicate what we expect, what we hope for. They need to build a consensus. Then the parents can look for a person that is not only what would be their ideal but what would be the child's ideal.

Question: In some respects, I think it might be unfair to bless a child that hasn't much faith at all with someone that is an active church member.

In those cases, I would think that the child's input is very important because for them to make it work, the horizontal attraction and their commitment to the person is more important than their commitment to God or the feeling that I will make it work no matter what.

For them, the motivation to go ahead and make a commitment to the other person would come out of respect for the person to the point where the child says, I am ready I believe I can love this person.

In that case, I believe they would need a much longer communication period, maybe much more communication with the parents first, about who I could see myself committing myself to. I think that if it's a personal commitment, and the child says and really feels, "I am ready to give my life to this person," I think it could work even if the vertical aspect is not strong. I have seen some cases, where both sides look more for someone who has a personal commitment rather than absolute faith. Some people would rather look for someone with whom they could have companionship and compassion. 

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