It has been on my mind a bunch lately: what makes a successful, healthy family? How we can grow together over time instead of apart, what steps can we take now that will hold us all together for the long haul, how can we raise compassionate, grateful kids in a world bent towards entitlement? Hubby and I have both experienced fractured relationships and “failure to thrive” in our families of origin – how can we help to break the cycles of toxicity that threaten our own home.
I do not have all the answers to those questions, but I can see some of the things that take out families and how we can begin to take steps to eliminate these problem areas in our own home.
These are the lessons I am learning about raising a healthy family – step one Find the Pause Button.
You see it quite often nowadays. Families that are rarely home together, over-scheduled kids. They had to have the bigger house, but are not home to rest in all that square footage or enjoy that big backyard together. We live purposed lives – navigating around hurry and busy and getting to the next thing.
“It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. Get some rest.” (Bob Goff)
Racing all over the countryside is never going to form us tightly as a family. I recognize that now. It has more of a chance of leaving our family frazzled, and hung out to dry. Ann Voskamp says, “Impatience and hurry are the sure marks of an amateur.” I have found this to be true in my own heart and life – so these are things that I am attempting to eliminate from our home.
Our culture’s greatest weakness is a family ragged and run dry.
I don’t want my children to live their childhood rushing to keep up, to catch up, to hurry up, move along, and grow up already. They have all their adult lives to be about business – busyness.
I see it in the faces of people behind me in the checkout line – the hurry, the impatience. They do not want to wait and everywhere I go people following behind after our larger than average family will most likely be forced to wait. For one thing moving about with all these littles is an event. But I also do not rush about anymore. I am not in a hurry. That is not a sign of rebellion or trying to mess with other people’s day.
I simply have five children and I want to ease into everything we do without a rush.
I can afford NOT to hurry. We can afford to have a little fun.
NO place or event is so important that I need to go dragging and threatening all my children behind me.
This fall we took the long trip up over the mountain passes and through the woods to my parents home in western Pennsylvania. And we did not rush. We stopped at the overlooks and scenic views. We took the slow and steady pace homeward because we have to. This wee little babe does not travel well and so we are forced to slow the forward movement until she is ready.
Because of the autoimmune diseases that wreck havoc on my body – I am forced to slow daily. I can not rush forward impatiently because I end up spinning tires and energy, wasting my life flow in that unnecessary state of being hurried. It is a waste of my time to rush.
You miss so many good things when you hurry.
And so I intentionally slow us all way down.
I know this annoys others. When I can sit on porch chairs and choose to not go anywhere for days – because my body needs to stop for days of rest or I haven’t the notion to go. I know that the need for activity and to be entertained is throbbing beneath the surface of most people’s lives. And so they see my “lack of direction” and my lack of hurry – as threatening or wrong. So the labels start flowing: lazy…
I am convinced we avoid the silence and the slowing of life because our internal dialogue frightens us. We need the busy to drown out our brokenness. In busy we do not have to deal with ourselves. People don’t know what to do with their silent spaces – quiet frightens them, pausing long enough makes the throbbing pain of loneliness or brokenness or weariness – the silence makes the emptiness too obvious. So we rush to avoid the silence. We shout our lives over the quiet.
We schedule out even the chance of life finding us idle.
You can spend all your time rushing forward into the next big thing… house, career, child, marriage, car, project, vacation…and miss your entire life. Find your life’s pause button.
I have to slow down over here. I have to let the house lay dusty, unorganized, and untouched for a day or two. I have to allow the messy places to lie as I reorient myself towards rest – because if I don’t I will waste all this life-flowing goodness by rushing, cleaning and organizing and planning and directing.
In trying to craft the perfect life –
- to direct it all towards the next goal
- the next stop
- the next activity
- the next game
- the next bigger house
- the next career move
- the next vacation
- the next step in our education
and in focusing all our attention on the next big thing- we miss being present in all the good things right here and right now.
When we rush we miss the goodness in our present state of being.
Worry doesn’t add one good thing to your life.
And neither will the rushing ahead in a hurry.
Hurry will not add anything significant to your life or your family.
When you rush you do not even have enough time to see the beauty.
I don’t want to be so busy making a life that I forget to live.
I am learning that healthy families know how to rest together.
Peace and slowing down is an essential part of their home.
They seek to fill up their soul-wells with nature, quiet moments, family games nights, backyard fire pits, piles of leaves, tree climbing, and night-time games of tag. They make popcorn and cuddle up together for movie nights or that next book in their favorite series to read aloud (because they have a family favorite series to read aloud). They take long hikes in woods and creek beds and shore lines.
They don’t just wait for one week’s worth of vacation a year to rest together – but instead find sacred moments of rest in their every single day together.
This is HOW I want to live. ♥