One of the main areas our family needs to work on is the environment in our home. Rick and I have long recognized that we struggle in this area. We strive to have a home full of joy and laughter, a safe place where our children can be honest and transparent. The reality is that the stress of these past few months has permeated every aspect of our lives, including our home environment. Stress and anxiety translate into short tempers, unrealistic expectations and tension between husband and wife, parents and children, and siblings.
Now that we have made some major changes in our lives-moving to a smaller home, changes in the home dynamics, etc.-we have determined that we need to focus on the emotional health of our family. I sometimes hear my children remark that they wish our family was like "that family" (one they see on TV or somewhere else), so I started researching families I identified as "happy" and looking to see what the differences were between them and us.
I found several areas that we need to improve on, but after much prayer and discussion we narrowed it down to 2:
LOVE IS EVERYTHING
Every day, every moment, we are presented with a choice. We can choose to react to situations that arise during our day in one of 2 ways-joy or not joy. It is really quite simple. Choose joy. In every situation, look for the joy-for the positive. See the glass as half-full. It is a choice, we are not required to be victims of circumstance. God has given us the ability to choose how we react to those circumstances of our lives, not be defined by them. So whenever one of us seems to be struggling with attitude-we work to remind that person to choose joy!
Besides choosing joy each and every day and each and every moment, we have identified the one true thing that is the root of all happiness, all joy and what makes a family stay together-LOVE.
Love is everything. Love is the gospel. God's love, Christ's love, our love. It all comes back to love.
The family home is the first place our children learn about love. This is their first encounter with the love of Christ. Parents are the first people to show their children how to love and how the love of Christ is a life-giving, life-saving love.
In the midst of anger and frustration, arguing and yelling-stop. Remind yourselves that love is everything and the only important thing.
No matter what we do-educate, discipline, teach, train-with our children, if we do it without love, it is worthless. Faith is nothing without love. Gifts are nothing without love. We are nothing without love.