It’s funny how Hollywood often portrays families like this:
When REAL families are usually more like this:
Pictures like the second one usually come with captions like “If this doesn’t serve as a birth control method, then I don’t know what will! LOL!”
Really? Since when did we start valuing our comfort and “freedom” more than the true joy of being part of a family?
Yes – all families struggle. Aside from the conflicts, the irritation with each other’s bad habits, and the fierce arguments, many families struggle with deeper issues like alcoholism, domestic violence, mental illness, health problems, and money troubles.
But does that mean that the family is totally dead? Does that mean that we should give up on the notion and live our own, independent lives?
God Is In The Family
As it turns out, families play a vitally important role in bringing God to people.
Once, my mother bought a bunch of video tapes (remember those?) showing New Testament cartoons, sat me down, and watched them with me. Together, we watched how Zechariah climbed the tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus, and how the Prodigal Son came back to his father. Then, we talked about what we saw. That was the first time I remember consciously thinking about God.
Think about how parents become the living examples of Jesus to their children.
Think about how, when families sit down, say grace and eat together, they reflect what Jesus did with his disciples 2000 years ago.
How about how having Bibles, a simple altar, and a crucifix around the house can serve as simple but poignant reminders for all family members to keep God in mind as they go about their day.
Think about how, even in the Holy Family, there were disagreements and tension. Yet, God uses the family to reach out to each and every one of us and call us closer to Him!
Living Out God’s Mission In A REAL Family
So, we know that God works strongly through the family. But sometimes, it can be extremely difficult and trying to see past the day-to-day struggles of being in a family.
Perhaps it might help to think back to the classic phrase: What Would Jesus Do?
- If Jesus was involved in an argument, would he bear a grudge against the other party, or reach out to say “I’m sorry” regardless of who was in the wrong?
- If Jesus got cheated of thousands of dollars by his nephew, would he rain down his angry wrath, or stretch out his hand in forgiveness?
- If Jesus was busy with a major project and running on 4 hours of sleep, would he ignore his parents to get his work done, or spend some quality time with them even though he was tired?
Truly, the basis of learning to love our families falls into the three pillars of Acceptance, Affirmation and Appreciation. Pope Francis also lays out 8 tips to help us improve our family life:
Let us pray to God for the Grace to remember that He is present not only in the joys, but also in the pains & difficulties.
Let us learn to be grateful for the many graces that we have received through our families!