Life is fleeting. When it really comes down to it, faith, family and values are what really matter in life.
It's important that we define success and significance for our lives, and then strive to work towards that in small ways on a daily basis. What good is all the worldly success, if we don't have peace in our family relationships? Proverbs 17:1 says, "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."
We should live our lives so the people who know us the best, respect us the most.
If you have a house full of love, you have everything you really need.
You can have a lot of things, but if you don't have peace in your closest relationships, your life will always be missing what truly matters.
The good news is, if you don't have a house full of love, by God's grace, you can establish this in your own family some day!
My wife's grandparents, Mark & Shirley have been like true grandparents to me. Their story is amazing. Both of them grew up in tough situations, and eventually moved as immigrants from Canada to the United States where they would spend their lives in ministry.
Grandpa Mark's parents had him out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption, as it was shunned at that time. He was adopted by a Methodist minister's family. Late in his life, he came across his birth mother, but she didn't want to meet him or know him.
Grandma Shirley had a very rough family life, and left the home at age 14. Her mom was extremely harsh and unkind throughout her life.
Yet, as these two came together, with the help and grace of God, they have built a family heritage and culture that is nothing short of beautiful. There are still many imperfections, as there are with all of us, but it cannot be understated the night and day difference that it makes to submit your life and your parenting to the Lord and work at establishing a family culture of peace and unconditional love in the home, where children can thrive.
To think of where Mark & Shirley came from - a home where they did not know the love of their own parents, to today - where they've built a family full of deep love, forgiveness, graciousness, and while imperfect, full of so much joy ... is astonishing to me! It is a crystal clear picture of God's grace, and what God can do when you commit your family to His loving care.
Here are several thoughts on building a house full of love:
1. Consider what you are carrying over from your parents
We all have a propensity to carry with us throughout our lives, what our parents showed us while we were growing up. Whether for the good or bad.
How our parents raised us, will dramatically impact how we live out the rest of our lives, unless we are intentional to change the patterns.
If our parents were angry, uptight and rude, we have have a tendency to lean more this way. If our parents were gracious and kind, we will have a tendency toward that way.
In reality, none of us have perfect parents, so it's important to consider what we learned from them - the good and the bad - and watch our own lives closely, so we pass on to our own children those things that were good about our parents, while shielding our children from the negative lessons we may have picked up while growing up.
2. Honor your parents, even when it's hard
Always honor your parents, even when they don't deserve it - both to your family, and in your own heart. This doesn't mean you honor the negative things they have done, but simply that you honor them as your parents who gave you life. God's Word says, "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--"so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (Ephesians 6:2-3)
To live a life of honor towards everyone (see 1 Peter 2:17), starting with your parents, is one of the most important things you can ever do.
If you don't honor others, you will live a life of dishonor.
Scripture tells us if we don't honor our parents, even when it's hard, it will not go well for us, and our lives will be cut short from the earth. Science has now shown that holding bitterness in our hearts will cause us to die at a younger age - adding to the ramifications of this verse.
3. Speak the peace of God over your house, and your family
This is a promise God has given us: "My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." (Isaiah 32:18)
There are multiple Biblical examples of praying for the peace of God over your house and your family. Pray that God would fill your house and family with His peace, grace, joy and love.
Focus on God's peace in your own heart. "Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15) When the peace of God rules the hearts of the parents, the peace of God will permeate the home.
4. Set the Example of Unconditional Love and Grace
Your children's view of God will be deeply affected by the way you act towards them - far more than by the words you say.
Don't show your family kindness conditionally based on if they meet your high expectations. Love them, and give them grace even when they don't deserve it. Prisons are not filled with kids who's parents loved them too much.
Set the example in your home, of how you want your children to act and react.
- Don't just expect them to do chores - you serve your spouse, and them, and then invite them on the journey to learn what a joy it is to serve each other.
- Say "I love you," "I like you," "I value you," "I forgive you" and other affirming phrases often. Don't just expect them to know this - overstate it, and always mean it from the depths of your heart.
- Love Jesus truly and authentically from your heart. Not in some over-spiritual way where you can't talk normal around your children, but in a humble, gracious and authentic way where they see your love for Jesus, more than you say it.
- When you mess up, or are harsh, be quick to apologize. When those in your family mess up, be quick to forgive. Show that it's okay to fail and be imperfect on the journey towards loving each other with everything you've got.