The human race started when God created the first family. Family is the foundation of any civilization. It is the source from which every nation draws its strength. It is the cradle of the human race and culture. But it is more than all of these. It is also the center of gravity in our lives. And it all started when God Himself created the institution of the family.
Have you ever noticed what makes a house a home? Houses come in all shapes and sizes. The interior layout and configuration can differ greatly in design and decor. But some houses never become a home. They merely remain a structure, maybe large and beautiful, but nevertheless, just a building.
A loving and happy family, small or large, changes all of that. When they move in, a transformation takes place. Their house quickly becomes home sweet home. They may not own the house, and might occupy it for only a short time; but as long as that family lives there, that’s home. It becomes the center of gravity in the lives of everyone in that family. Even when some travel far and wide and live somewhere else, they are still drawn back there by a pull that becomes so strong, they can hardly wait to go back home again!
Why is this? What develops this unbreakable and irresistible bond which in turn creates such a warm, inviting home place that exerts a gravitational pull on every family member? Sooner or later they are homeward bound and you had best not get in their way!
Not all families are unified and happy. Not every home is inviting and welcoming. In too many cases there is tension, hostility and anger in the house. Even abuse and violence can be regular occurrences. How sad and tragic that is!
What can be done to ensure that the family, hearth and home will be everything they were meant to be? There is a law of cause and effect in play here. What are the causes of dynamic, successful, unified families living life to the full in a home overflowing with joy and accomplishments?
Here are seven factors that make all the difference in the development of happiness and peace, instead of failure and sadness, in this most important part of our lives.
Unconditional love & respect
Our loved ones should know that when they come home, the welcome will be warm, the love unshakeable, and the interest and respect for them genuine, no matter what. Of course, they should conduct themselves in a reasonable and respectful manner. Everyone may not agree with what others have done or how they are turning out, but nothing will erase that family bond and lasting love.
Just look at the welcome the prodigal son received when he returned home after making huge mistakes: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:20–24). A family that is assured and confident in each member’s unconditional love knows that they can always go home.
Eagerness to apologize and forgive whenever needed
Some homes are split asunder by grudges and hurt feelings that may be harbored for years. Think how much better it would be if the one at fault simply went to the relative they had wronged and said, “I’m sorry,” and really meant it! Consider how misunderstandings and offensive deeds could be erased if the offended family member said, “I forgive you totally. This is no longer a problem.” Usually, the reason neither of these two steps is taken is pride on the part of one or both individuals involved in the dispute. And more often than not, they are petty grievances. Notice Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
Communication and sharing
Isn’t it ironic how families that grew up together and were very close, start to drift apart and end up having very little, if anything, to do with one another. They might lose touch altogether and live out their lives without even knowing where each one lives and how they are doing. We’re talking about brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers! This is such a shame, such a lost opportunity for some of the greatest experiences life has to offer—that of interacting and sharing big chunks of happy living with loved ones.
This sad and inexcusable state of affairs happens when families neglect to talk, write, visit and help out every chance they get. These are people who should love one another more than anyone else on earth! Often it is a matter of each person waiting for the other to take the first step. Someone ought to take the initiative and get the ball rolling and keep it rolling for life. It may take hard work but it will be worth it.
We are told in Hebrews 13:16: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” This giving and serving attitude will strengthen the family relationship.
Education and preparation
A happy home is where we are educated and equipped with the essentials for successful living throughout our lives. It is in this loving family atmos– phere that we learn the basic skills and lay a solid foundation to become responsible adults.
From walking and talking, to how to work, guidelines of safety and caution, to principles for interacting with others and respecting them and their property, and much more—all of the basics are taught and learned first at home. Good judgment, discerning right from wrong, winning and losing gracefully, practicing courtesy and manners, cultivating intellectual curiosity and the exhilaration of seeing a worthwhile project all the way through to the end and doing it well—all of these qualities should be instilled and absorbed before leaving home and striking out on our own!
But this training takes commitment and the right example set by loving, caring parents who fully embrace one of the highest and most satisfying callings any human being can have—parenting!
And look at the joy and results this kind of service and leadership in the home brings: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Prov. 31:27–31).
Bring back the traditional family
The traditional family revolves around the home place and includes not only immediate family members, but grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. That extended family has started to crumble and disintegrate in the secular and celebrity–driven world of today. Along with this unraveling goes the loss of family ties, roots and the wisdom learned from the experiences of our forefathers. This must be reversed, and it can be! But it will take time and dogged determination.
Think of what will happen if this turn around doesn’t take place—the family life that has made our country so great for centuries will be destroyed and gone forever. This must not happen! Time is of the essence and if allotted and used effectively, it is the key to restoring the traditional family back to prominence.
Start to discuss the history of your family, on both sides, in your home. Pull out photo albums and pass them around. Reminisce about the good times gone by, including lessons learned and how setbacks were overcome. Call and write long lost relatives and organize a family reunion or homecoming. Visit grandparents and ask them to visit your home, often and at length.
When this pump is primed, it will start to run on its own and great results will be enjoyed by all. Sure you may encounter some disappointments and problems but the good will far outweigh the bad! Precious quality time spent on this family restoration will yield rich, life–long dividends for your family and home: “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table….Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel” (Psa. 128:1–3, 6).
Fun and adventure
Good, clean, wholesome fun will always be found in abundance in a home filled with a happy family. Laughter, singing, playing games, travel and recreational activities are vital in developing a balanced, well–rounded, interesting and well–informed individual.
The pursuit of excellence will lead to becoming involved in things that require discipline and sacrifice. Music, art, sports and avid reading of good books are challenging and exhausting sometimes, but they are also captivating and rewarding. When the whole family gets involved in these things, a closeness and bonding takes place.
Outdoor projects such as camping, building, hiking and hard work, teach lessons, mold character and produce mental and physical toughness that will be used time and time again along the rough and sometimes tortuous journey through life. This preparation for the future also includes indoor duties and activities. Housekeeping, homemaking, and house maintenance are often called chores. But in fact they don’t have to be boring and filled with drudgery. If they are shared, as a team, they can be responsibilities which will be a pleasure to look back on with a feeling of “job well done!”
There is a principle found in the Bible that applies to fun, work and adventure, whether it be indoors or outdoors, whether it involves mental or physical activity. It is found in Ecc. 9:10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
Establish the true values
Honesty, integrity, respect for authority, loyalty and dependability are all standards and values that will be taught, required and cherished in a home and family that holds to a higher and better way of living. Their home will be an oasis in the desert—a place to come to, away from the storm, the maddening crowd, the rat–race. Security, peace, hospitality and unity will be found there.
In this home, they won’t be afraid to talk about God and follow His ways. You will probably find the Ten Commandments hanging on the wall, and on the coffee table, a Bible that is opened and read regularly. Frequent, scintillating discussions will take place around the dinner table, or in front of a roaring fire, or out under the shade tree sipping lemonade or coffee. This is the type of family, living in the type of home described in Psalm 127: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them...” (vv 1, 3–5).
This is the kind of home that becomes the center of gravity for the family. From birth to the grave, it will guide and color the actions, decisions and character of all who have ever lived there.