What does a family look like?

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I was sitting tonight thinking of all the things I “should” be doing. Thinking of all the things that we as a family “should” be doing. But I wasn’t doing any of them, we weren’t doing any of them. What was wrong with us, with me, I wondered. Why aren’t we the way a family should be? I mean, my husband is on the computer playing a video game. That’s not what he’s suppose to be doing. That’s not the ‘right’ thing a husband is to do. The kids were outside playing with friends, but wait, we weren’t doing things ‘together’. And me, what was I doing? Sitting, trying to figure out what I ‘should’ be doing. But what did I really want to do? Can I admit it, it wasn’t family oriented, and it wasn’t a ‘Christian’ thing. Can I even admit it to myself? I wanted to put a tv sitcom’s dvd in, veg a bit, and play some computer games on the laptop. But I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, that just wouldn’t be ‘right’. That’s not what we are to do at night as a family, that’s not the responsible thing to do.

So instead of putting a DVD in, I did my nails a little bit, sat outside for a few minutes, until the cold chased me back in and then picked up a devotional magazine I get every month. I started reading an article taken from a book titled, “Empty Womb, Aching Heart” by Marlo Schalesky. The article was titled a family of two, and I was guessing it was talking about a ‘smaller’ family of just two kids. But no, she was talking about infertility and that she had come to realize they were a family already, regardless of what others thought. Because to most people a family doesn’t start until kids come. But she had learned to base her life and her family’s life on what the Lord was showing her, not what others were telling her a family should be.

So what does an article on infertility have to do with me, when I have two kids? The fact that I need to stop doing or not doing things in my life based on what others say should or shouldn’t be done. Just like she learned a family isn’t what others say it is. See, I felt like my husband and I should go for a walk tonight not because I really wanted to, but because as a family, as a husband and wife, I’ve read that’s what we should do. I’ve heard it repeated over and over and over, turn off the tv, spend more time together as a family, spend quality time together as a husband and wife. Do this, do that, then you’ll grow closer and closer as a couple. Do this or do that and you’ll be in your children’s life better. The list goes on and on. But the Lord showed me tonight, that just because someone says that if you do ‘this’ more or ‘that’ more together, you’ll be a closer family (or closer couple, the ‘perfect’ whatever), doesn’t mean the Lord is telling me to do it. I can’t automatically take what others say as something the Lord is speaking into my life. I can’t automatically take what others do and think that by applying it to my life or my family’s life it is the ‘right’ way to do it.

I need to seek the Lord and ask Him what is right for us. Because on the surface, you could take a snapshot of my family right now and say we are not ‘close’, we are seperate and not growing together. You could say that, if you just looked at this moment right now. Because right now my husband is on one computer, I’m on my laptop, our son is sitting on the couch reading a book and our daughter is in her room reading. We are not doing anything ‘together’ and Paul and I are into ‘electronic’ things. You know, those evil, vile things we are all to stay away from. So if you take a snap shot, look at my family right this second, you may wonder. But you aren’t looking at the whole picture, I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. Because last night my husband and I had a talk that wasn’t planned, wasn’t done to be the ‘perfect’ couple, but just happened as we were standing in the kitchen for a few minutes. And that talk brought us closer together than any walk tonight could have. And what about two days ago when we had a good heart to heart talk with our daughter about an issue, that had us three hugging and expressing our love for each other. Or what about three days ago when we all sat down together and watched a movie? Or what about the times my son talks to us for 10 minutes about a video game he has just won that was so hard, or watching him laugh hysterically has he reads his Charlie Brown book?

To some maybe those aren’t the ‘right’ things that bring a family together, but it brings us together. And as I read that article, I realized I was viewing our family through other people’s eyes. Picking the things we did or didn’t do and analyzing them against what others or ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ are) think we should be doing. And if it didn’t meet that standard, I felt like it was wrong. Who cares that my son can explain things in detail and show how big his imagination is, because what he’s talking about is video games, and he shouldn’t play video games, bad mom. Or who cares that my husband and I just talked through some things that needed to be talked about last night, because tonight we are on electronic things and that’s bad, bad wife. Or who cares that my daughter is growing in the Lord and seeing things in her life she wants to change, because right now we aren’t doing things together, bad mommy. And I was thinking all those things are bad, why? Because we weren’t living up to the standard someone else had set, and I had placed myself under. Because I was viewing someone else’s life, or what they considered to be the ‘right’ way to live, and took it as the way the Lord wants us, me, to live. Because I was looking for others approval, and assumed that if I followed what others said made the Lord happy, that meant He would be happy with me too.

But you know what, He is happy and loves me, because of Him, not because of me or what I do. He has things He wants me to do, that won’t look anything like what other mothers and wives do. He has put together this family and we are His, and we won’t look anything like what other families look like. Why? Because we are who we are, and we are loved by God. He has given us all different personalities, different desires and different lives. We are not all to look the same, regardless of what people write and say. Even though people out there write books, articles, blogs etc… saying their way is ‘the’ way a family is suppose to look. But that’s not true. Anymore that it’s ture that a family is only a family when kids are involved.

The Lord has been working with me on this for many months, slowly but surely. And tonight He made it so clear to me. I wish I could say that I’m completely changed and will never again think about if I’m doing things ‘right’ (right being what others say is right). I know I will stumble and fall into that trap again. It’s so easy for me to want to make sure I’m doing everything the Lord wants me to ‘do’ (instead of just being). And when I can’t find an exact list from the bible, I tend to gravitate to what others write and say and think that list is ‘the’ list to follow. And I take the Lord completely out of the equation. So I’m going to take it day by day. Will there be some days that I watch more tv than others? Yep, there will be. Have I stumbled or fallen on the days I watch more? Or days we don’t do lots of things together as a family? Have I failed as a wife and mother on those days and need to try harder the next? Nope, not at all. Because it’s not about what I do and don’t do. Not watching tv doesn’t make me any more right with God, than watching tv takes me away from God. Because it’s His love for me and my love for Him that matters. And if I’m watching too much tv, or am online too much, or just not quite where I’m suppose to be in my walk with Him, He will show me. But it won’t be because I’m not following some man made list of do’s and dont’s. And I need to trust in Him and His love for me, more than I trust in man made rules and lists. It’s not going to be an easy, overnight thing for me, as I crave people approval. But I’m going to keep giving it to the Lord, and know that He will show me each step He wants me to take.

Am I saying this is the way everyone should live and be? Nope, not at all. My lists or lack of lists isn’t any more right for you, than your lists or lack of lists, is right for me. This is what the Lord has shown me in my life, and I feel quite free in it. And I thank the Lord for that freedom. And as I look around our living room, that we are all in, sharing each others interests as one plays cards, one reads, one plays a computer game and one blogs . I realize that we all take an interest in each others hobbies and likes. That we are all laughing and chuckling at the book one of us is reading, and encouraging each other in the games others are playing. And I realize, the Lord is with us through it all.

So now that I have this out and journaled. Now that I’m understanding that all families are different and won’t look the same. I think I will sign off, play a computer game while watching a DVD.

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