What words would you use to describe family life? For most of us, it depends on the moment we’re asked! We might say joy, laughter, bonding, closeness, cuddles, smiles, wonder, joy, love, delight, acceptance. Or we might say exhaustion, frustration, end-of-the-rope irritation. Or we might say pain, hurt, betrayal, loneliness.
Hidden behind these words are other realities of family life that we may not realize as we hum through the busy nature of daily life: the testing, the opportunities to grow, the conviction and means to change we find in family life.
“Family” looks different for each of us. It may be a decades-long, empty-nest marriage. It may be marital singleness but, of course, an ongoing connection to siblings, parents, nieces, nephews. It may be a marriage and a house full of kiddos. It may be a house full of kiddos, but without a spouse at one’s side. It may be marriage without children. It may be beloved grandchildren. It may be some other arrangement of relatives, of friends, of loved ones that make for us a home, a family.
However you define your “family” one thing is certain: Mixed in with the joy and delight, there are hurts, misunderstandings, frustrations. And through it all is a challenge — an opportunity — to more deeply love the loved ones in your life. To stretch far beyond instinctive self-interest. To choose forgiveness over bitterness. To choose hope over discouragement. To choose appreciation over that ever-looming temptation to take others for granted. To treasure. To embrace. To cherish.
This month, in honor of my new devotional study of the same name, we’ll be looking at what it can mean to Cherish Your Family. I find family life to be a great blessing and joy, a profound responsibility, and also — let’s be honest — an arena of great testing. Time and again, family life asks each of us to choose between giving or taking, anger or patience, self or selflessness. It challenges what we’re made of and, in the process, makes us into someone. It’s tough! And it’s awesome! It’s worth cherishing.
Who are your loved ones? Who makes up your family? Will you join me on this journey? Will you choose to cherish them today?