We have probably all heard the phrase: “Family, I can’t live with them and I can’t live without them.” That is a phrase that is used to express frustration with someone or something they’ve done but ultimately cannot or really don’t want to give up on that relationship. Or how about “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family,” when it comes to accepting or appreciating our family.
As the holidays have come to an end family and those family relationships probably dictated the “happiness” of that New Year or Christmas. I was recently reminded from a young lady in high school who lost her dad two years ago about reminding ourselves just how important family is and not taking them for granted. Here is part of what she wrote on social media: “I can’t believe it has been half-a-year since I’ve been able to see your face or hear your voice. I love you like crazy, and miss you more than mere words can express. Today was hard for me, and I know that I will have days like this that I have to face for the rest of my life. I never thought that I would lose you, and now that I have I want to say “I love you with everything!” You taught me family was everything and I am truly blessed with the family I have! I am extremely lucky/grateful to have had you for a father, and even more so to have had you long enough to raise me into the young woman I am today. Those memories I made with my best-friend-and-father, I will never forget and I will cherish forever.”
In chapter 2 of my book, Before You Say I Don’t, FACTS AND NOTHING BUT THE FACTS I wrote, “Consider this statement: The divorce revolution—the steady displacement of a marriage culture by a culture of divorce and unwed parenthood-has failed. It has created terrible hardships for children, incurred insupportable social costs and failed to deliver on its promise of greater adult happiness. The time has come to shift the focus of national attention from divorce to marriage and to rebuild a family culture based on enduring marital relationships. It really is hard to separate the facts from the lies in our culture today. It is hard for us to know who we can believe and who we can trust, especially when we are dealing with a life changing decision like divorce.”
As you look at our country and the past downfalls of other countries it is obvious that the family is essential as it sustains society while fulfilling God’s purposes. When talking about life we’re used to hearing ourselves and others say that the most important thing in life is family and friends. It’s hard to disagree with that and the evidence supporting this is overwhelming.
Jesus said, “do not hinder children coming to me” (Matthew 19:14). I personally have taken this very seriously. Children matter to God. Your children matter to Him. All children are a gift from God and we owe it to them not to hinder them.
What matters most for building strong families, no matter individual roles or circumstances, is that all family members help each other to succeed. Here are a few characteristics that can help your family become one you can not only live with, but become a joy to be around:
- Commitment: Marriage is built on a covenant that was established by God. That covenant should reach into all family components. That covenant means that in good and bad times, which all families have, parents and children remain loyal to each other.
- Encouragement and Appreciation: In the Bible, Jesus stated simply that we must “love one another” (John 13:34). The writer of Hebrews says we are to “think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, NLT). Appreciation is actively showing love and gratitude for family members.
- Conflict Resolution: Families turn to their family members for love, support, and answers to problems. They work together to resolve emotional, economic, and marital challenges. Biblical love is not only a choice of our will shown through our actions, but it also includes our emotions that will be lived out through every conflict, every difficultly, and every disagreement. Biblical love is kind, patient, does not keep a record of wrongs even when others are not kind, patient, or forgiving (1Corinthians 13).
- Time Together: Frequent quality family time is one of the best ways to strengthen a family. It is not about a discussion over quality vs quantity time, but is about intentionally finding ways to be together.
It is through family where we learn how to love and accept love from others, be effective communicators, and be responsible citizens and this will be a life-long process. It can be through family that we learn the values of honesty, integrity, sincerity, humility, and hard work. Family is so important because without them, we wouldn’t have successful people or societies.