Family, A Haven in a Heartless World
“The family is a haven in a heartless world.” ~Attributed to Christopher Lasch
Each morning my family leaves our home and enters the discouraging, oppressive world of work or school. That may sound harsh, but true none the less…just watch the news. Students enter the “sacred halls of education” through metal detectors and security guards to sit in classrooms as canine police sniff out lockers for paraphernalia. In the classrooms and hallways, kids strive to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for attention at the expense of their peers. Queen bees slander other students and top dogs humiliate those under them on the social ladder. Each month, we witness multiple news reports of bullying and media harassment; or, we listen as our children tell us about all the “drama” that goes on between students.
At work, we find ourselves pushed to work longer hours, accomplish more, and meet productivity standards established by financial demands rather than human need. Even shopping has become potentially dangerous. Congresswomen and judges risk getting shot in the mall. On a smaller level, fights and arguments break out in stores as stressed staff wait on angry customers. Police and security guards patrol the halls of most malls. Is it any surprise that we come home exhausted, frustrated, and agitated from a day of work, school, or shopping in the “heartless world”? But, we do come home. Home sweet home, a haven of rest amidst the chaos of life.
Hopefully, our home does provide a haven of hope, an oasis of encouragement and peace. Family provides the shade from the hot desert sun, the refreshing drink that quenches our thirst, the cool lotion that soothes our burnt skin… alright, enough with the cliché metaphors (sorry, got carried away). Let’s get to the point. How do we make our families a safe haven, an oasis of peace and restoration? We do so by establishing three distinctive traits in our home and family life.
First, turn your home into a place of honor. Honor one another with polite speech, encouraging words, and loving praise. Listen attentively to one another. Serve one another without complaining. Treat one another with kindness. Express gratitude for kindness received. Learn about something that interests another family member. Do something nice for family members on a regular basis. All these actions, and more, show honor and, practiced regularly, establish honor as a hallmark in the family.
Second, turn your home into a place of grace. Give one another the gift of your time. In the midst of your busy life, remain available and attentive to one another. Give the gift of your attention, acknowledging the value of each family member’s presence in your life. Give respect and kindness even when the other person does not deserve it. Sacrifice your own desires in order to satisfy the needs and desires of your family. Expect nothing in return. Simply treat your family with love. You will find that such grace breeds more grace and more love, more respect and more sensible living.
Third, transform your family into a celebrating community. Celebrate successes, failures, and everything in between. Enjoy another’s company during meals. Laugh together. Play together. Have a game night, movie night, or some other activity night. Celebrate birthdays and holidays. Make up your own days of celebration. Give gifts for no reason at all. Actively seek out ways to enjoy celebrating with your family any chance you get.
By practicing these behaviors in your family, you transform your home into a celebrating community of honor and grace that will serve as an oasis of rest and peace, a haven in the midst of a heartless world.