Covid turned our world upside-down. Do you long for a return to “normal”? Are you hoping this summer will look a lot different (and better!) than the last one? Life this year is bound to look different, so the question should be, “Will it be better?”
The winter of 2020-2021 was an opportunity to pause and evaluate our lives. The parents I have talked to are falling into two different camps regarding their approach to family life this year. One group cannot wait to resume all their former activities and plans. They hope to be involved in as many of those activities as possible. The rhythm and social engagement fed their lives. The other group is not so sure. In fact, they are looking at the looming list of sporting events, birthday parties, and memberships as an untamed monster headed their way. They were glad to get off the ‘hamster wheel’ and have a chance to regroup. How to evaluate all of this? Here are five suggestions:
Do not miss the beauty of unhurried time together.
Relationships take time. Even those with your kids. Especially those with your kids. Dinners together, walks, and decreased extracurricular activities are a blessing. Before you jump into a commitment, designate time in your schedule for unhurried family together time.
The Covid shut-down was a window that revealed the hearts in your family.
Did you find it hard to spend time with your children? Did they find it hard to be with each other and you? Don’t buy the lie that it’s okay to not get along with each other. Those difficulties are often rooted in sin. What do these bumps tell you about your heart and theirs? Proximity does not automatically equal deep relationships and discipleship. Hopefully you have a renewed intimacy with your children and an awareness of their needs. What changes can you make to direct your lives into more Christ-like family relationships? Would you benefit from some counseling or mentoring help?
Activities can be good, but they do need careful evaluation.
Don’t be afraid to be counter-cultural when it comes to sports teams, time with friends, drama or dance lessons, etc. As Americans we often let opportunities for the individual rule the entire family. It is okay to say “no” to an opportunity if the effect will be detrimental to the family as a whole.
This year gave us a chance to focus on what truly matters.
For Christians the bottom line is this: becoming like Christ and spreading the Gospel. Is this what your family is all about? Can you point to conversations you’ve had and decisions that you made as a family that reflect the reason God made you? Gospel sharing and discipleship are skills. They don’t just happen. No one wants to get to the end of his life and realize he missed the main goal, yet that could be the case for many Christian families. We have been handed a golden opportunity to recalibrate and make “main thing the main thing”. Let’s not waste this opportunity.
All parents want good for their children.
However, to crave a life that is free of pain and chaos for your child is to want them to experience Heaven on earth. Right now, that is not an option. so Instead, use this time to help your children long for Heaven and to know the One who welcomes us there. Give your children biblical tools to deal with the hardships, pain, disappointment, and fears they will undoubtedly experience in their lives. Teach them to long for the day when Jesus will come again to redeem the earth and when there will be no more pain or death.
Our God is the God of Hope and Redemption. There is plenty of hope for your family to be drawn closer to God and to enjoy His redemptive work in your lives together this year. The following are a few resources that could help you toward that goal:
A Checklist for Parents by Pam Forster
Family Feuds, How to Respond by Timothy Lane (booklet)
The Brother Offended Checklist by Pam Forster
The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace and Stuart Scott