Family is one of the greatest gifts we may ever receive in this life. The dictionary defines it as: ‘a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.’
Family is a complex thing and yet it is also so simple. We may all see it as something different. Some view family as a mom, dad, and kids. Some see it as mom OR dad with kids. Some may view it as kids with their grandparents. There are also those who may not have grown up in a conventional family setting, maybe they grew up in foster care. Whatever the case may be, one thing remains: just like the fingers on every human are unique, so is every family.
When I think back to my childhood there are many things I remember. I remember every Friday night as a family we would go clean my Dad’s office, then pick up a pizza and go home and watch TGIF. On Saturday night when we were little, my brother and I would each take a bath and then come out and watch HEE HAW as a family. We all sat and watched it while my Mom ironed endless amounts of clothes that I would later smash into my dresser. The thing that sticks out in my mind the most was that our house always felt “warm”. Not temperature-wise, but I always felt so secure in my family’s love for me.
When I was first married I remember going into our house and trying to create that warm feeling. However, it was not something I could just go buy at the store. After spending a ridiculous amount of time of trying to figure it out, I came to understand that it was simply from loving people. As a child I remember my parents often having company over for lunch after church. They had people over for sing-alongs. Yes, it sounds crazy, but people would come over to our house and my mom would play the piano and we would sit and sing different hymns and choruses for hours. I remember a man who came over to our house and sat and cried and cried. I then remember helping him move and getting his new house set up. At the time I had no idea why he was crying. Now that I’m older I understand that it was because his wife had left him for another man and my parents were comforting him through that.
The thing that makes your house warm is simply loving people. Now we get to allow our kids to see Christ’s love in action and guide them along in how to live that out, so when they grow older it just comes naturally. The experiences we go through as a family help shape what they look for later on in a spouse, and because we do not get to pick their spouse I want to encourage them to look for the noble traits.
God created each of us for a purpose, but I believe He also has a purpose for each of our families. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in how we think we are supposed to be, that we lose sight of whom He created us to be. We have some friends who sold their home and possessions to go into the mission field. We are inspired by their boldness to do such a thing. However, for Christ to use us does not mean we must make an extreme change. It could be as simple as reaching out to a child who may come from a troubled home to show them they are loved. Perhaps getting to know your neighbors and creating a comfort level so they may one day come to you in a time of need. Or even just inviting people over for dinner. Just because that came naturally to my parents does not mean I inherited that trait. It took time to get me where I am now. I remember when we first started inviting families over for dinner. Our mentor encouraged us to, and at the time I couldn’t cook worth a darn. He knew that, because he was one who suffered through many of my disasters. I said what if dinner is awful, or conversation is lacking, or they don’t like us, or we don’t like them… what if, what if, what if. He looked at me and smiled and said, “You are inviting someone into your home and showing interest in their lives. Even if dinner is a disaster they will appreciate your gesture.”
I know life is busy, and we all have those times when we get overwhelmed by life’s demanding responsibilities. I just pray that we don’t allow our schedules and lives to get so filled up with the pointless things that there is no more time left for the things that truly matter. James 1:27 says, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” I see orphans and widows every day. Their parents and spouses may not be physically dead, but they sure are spiritually. And all I have to do for the world to corrupt me is simply give up and stop making effort. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
My hope and desire is that when our children grow up they will look back on their childhood and say our parents loved us. We went on adventures together, laughed together, and prayed together. They accepted our goals and desires but most importantly challenged us to always grow in our relationship with Christ. They taught us how to be women and men of noble character and helped us learn to share Christ’s love with others.
I love the saying: God does not call the qualified but simply asks if we are willing. A Godly family will move mountains. A city with Godly families will sweep a nation. I pray that we as a city refuse to give into the gripping pull of complacency. That we demand more out of this life than work and TV. That we pour into our families even though sometimes it is exhausting, and that we also pour into others. That we share meals and our hearts and lives with others as well. May we all seek to cherish and protect our beloved families, and may we remember that God placed them in our life for a reason. Let’s strive to find out how God wants to use our families for his glory.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15
Darci (sister in Christ, wife, mother of four, and neighbor of the South Side)