4. Be committed to one another, not an expectation.
Your family is unique, and so the things that allow you to connect or rejuvenate will be somewhat individual. Use another person’s Instagram post as an idea, but not as your personal objective. Along with your personal uniqueness, family life is jammed with twists and turns of season and stage.
My husband and I were married almost a decade before the Lord blessed us with our son. For that first decade, we had a system for our connection and relaxation. It mostly involved hiking, outdoor adventures, or playing music together With our son along, those activities took a different turn. They weren’t the same “getting away” experience, and we had to learn a new mechanism for how our family connected.
We’ve had seasons where we were so dog tired, every time we sat down for family devotions, one of us (usually me) would end up drooling exhausted on the couch. We wanted to read and pray together, but life was making it so hard to connect with the Lord and each other in that way!
One year, my precious husband planned this really sweet getaway for us as a family up to some nearby mountains where we had honeymooned. The little inn had been left to caretakers and the place had changed for the worse. Severely, utterly, horribly worse. We tried to dig in and make the best of it. One mishap after another ended with us packing it in early. My husband was discouraged his plans hadn’t turned out the way he hoped. But I was beyond words blessed that he was trying to help our tired little family connect and make joyful memories. I was so thankful to have a husband that wanted us all to connect enough that he would plan a trip for us like this. And that trip marked this sort of new beginning in our family connection efforts.
We started to appreciate not the end result, but the desire and effort we were putting in to make a home and family. We let go of the externals of the checklists we read in family books about how we are supposed to do life together, and clung to the internal, heart matters we’d learned from them. We started looking at each other in the craziness of life and saying, “I’m so glad I’m sharing this with you!” instead of trying to push it away or make it into something other than it was. All that to say, there probably will be more times when we pursue connection that end with less than glorious results, but making a home and a family is not based on one moment you can capture for a photo. It’s a cumulative experience.
So keep leaning in to one another. Let the attitude of your heart be steadfast, but grab hold of flexibility. Let life be what it is, but be in it together. If we try to contrive a sense of family that isn’t compatible with real life, our disappointment often leads us to ducking out. If our efforts to connect frustrate us, instead of draw us together, we will be tempted to let screens fill in for real conversations, and work to substitute for relationships.
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