Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Post: (From my mother) God sets the lonely in famlies

As I have been reflecting on family over this month I couldn't help but think of my own upbringing.  I know first hand that my parents had difficult teens to raise because I was one of them. I wont launch into all the details but some of the highlights are:

  • Calling my parents and telling them I was critically wounded in an accident
  • Getting hurt in a car surfing accident
  • Getting myself kicked out of the house due to my attitude and language use (putting it nicely)
But.... Enough about me.  As I contemplated this I could think of no one better to ask to write an article on family for this blog than my own personal hero - my mom.

God sets the lonely in families…

How can I explain family? Just reflecting on the idea makes my heart rejoice in this gift from God: The people I call family.  As each of the faces of these loved ones flash across my mind I think about how important each one of them is; how I love them each uniquely and as a collective.  Thoughts and feelings come easy to me, but sometimes it is hard to explain something that you just are.  I’ve spent a lot of time writing and rewriting my thoughts and still I feel that what I have written is inadequate to describe the depth of my understanding and passion in this matter.

Family begins with two.  The relationship that husband and wife share will impact the future expansions of family directly.  The things we do without thinking are a powerful living example to our children. As such we need to make every effort to show love and respect to each other as parents.  This creates a foundation of strength and a place to build on as the children grow.  As children are added to the relationship the love and respect should overflow from what is already there.  Of course there will be a lot of unexpected situations that will threaten the security of what we set up.  In these times I maintain that it is vital that we dedicate ourselves to prayer and constant discipline.  It takes a great deal of discipline for ourselves to be able to lovingly and respectfully discipline our children.  Discipline in what creates the boundaries that will keep our families as a safe stable place with honest communication.  In family there is a great need for self sacrifice.  You may not feel like spending time together, praying together, reading, working or learning together.  But unless we seek to be together how can we rejoice in each other’s victories or comfort each other in the trying times?  To be a family each must know that they are loved and cherished no matter how often they goof up.  

Building on such a foundation will help families survive the teen years.  Many times teens are very lonely as they seek to find their individual place and they need strong guidelines to keep them from making costly errors.  There is a delicate balance in this that I liken to holding tightly to a loosened rope.  We loosen it more as trust and responsibility are learned but holding tightly when boundaries are broken.   Discipline to maintain the family as a safe place is threatened when we give in to the “everyone is doing it” or the “I hate you” statements.  Our hearts are broken for our children and the temptation will be took seek friendship with our teens instead of remembering that our role is to be their parents.  They need you be strong as they have yet to learn to be strong on their own.  One of the hardest things is making sure you allow them to suffer the full consequences of their actions. We seek to protect and prevent harm, but we learned from our bad choices and they need to have the ability to do the same.    On the opposite end of the spectrum we need to resist the temptation to cut off the communication by declaring that “this is the way it is”.  This is rigidity not stability.  Remember to listen carefully; seek to understand what they are saying as opposed to assuming that you already know.  Be available and invest in wherever their interests lie.  Again I will say that family rests on the strong and consistent lives of the parents.

I like to remember that the words of David in Psalm 68:6a which say, “God sets the lonely in families.”  This includes my own children for sure and also a great many others who are desperately lonely who have come across our path over the years.  The faces I see flash past my eyes at the thought are not all related by blood, but I consider them family nonetheless.  I’m blessed that my family is a place God can set lonely people in. I look back on how many times I have failed and I am thankful for God’s love and forgiveness.  I am also thankful for the love and forgiveness of my children.  I praise God how they turned out in spite of me.

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