A friend posted something on her social media page this week that triggered a memory that made me smile. She said she didn’t write it, but re-posted from an unknown author; nevertheless, it hit home for me. With all of the unknown, anxiety and confusion that is swirling around all of us in the midst of one of the scariest times of our generation, it sounds like pretty sound advice. It read:
“Just think of all the sit down family dinners that will be happening across America because of this inconvenience. Practices, meetings etc. cancelled. So many people say we’re “so busy” and now have been forced to slow down. Here’s your moment. Use it wisely. Be intentional. Stay home. Clean a closet. Paint a room. Spend time just sitting and talking.” (Author Unknown)
Growing up in Southern West Virginia, we lived in a house on my great-grandparents farm. There were houses on all sides of the farm. There were kids everywhere! We never lacked for playmates. During our “growing-up” years, we played outside, in the mountains, in the creeks and the caves. We were outside from daylight to dark sometimes. As a family, we scattered during the day. I had my friend next door, my brothers had their friends. We were a loving family, but I would not say we were close. We were all out there, running around like wild Indians. That’s just how it was, nothing wrong with that, just how it was.
In the summer between my junior and senior year of high school we moved from Southern West Virginia to Kentucky. We moved away from the familiar, away from everyone and everything that we knew, all our family and friends, church and school (i.e. school activities). We moved into an isolated little farm house out in the country…. waayyyy out in the country! Well, technically only seven miles, but it seemed like a hundred miles the first time we drove out there!
My mom and I have talked many times that it was during those two years that we lived in Kentucky that we first became a “family.” Yes, we were family before then, but when it came down that we only had each other, it made this a time of family-building. We absolutely spent more time together. We began to become more closely knit, to depend on each other, to aggravate each other, to count on each other to be there. There were family dinners, board games, card games (many card games), and actual conversations.
Of course the situation then and the circumstances surrounding the situation we are in now are nothing alike, except for the fact that we were forced to be together as a family, to seek each other, to lean on each other. Outside influences were limited. We were in that area for such a short time that there were no pressing business meetings, or music or sport practices, or being too busy. We had time — time together. Apparently we used that time well because we came out of Kentucky into Tennessee as a cohesive unit – a real family – a close family.
We were such a close family, especially in the early Tennessee years, that both of my school age brothers’ friends many, many times wanted to be at our house. We kept snacks and sandwich fixings handy, Kool-aid in the fridge, frozen cookies in the freezer that they would bake at will, Nintendo in the TV room (really aging myself there), weights and a ping-pong table in the basement, basket ball court in the driveway, horse shoes in the back yard, and an open door policy. We lived across from the middle school where my brothers attended. We didn’t lock the doors in those days. The kids were free to come and go. We never missed anything. Our sense of family spread out to include friends as family. The closeness that we had created, when we were all that we had, stuck with us.
Just thinking now about how much time families are going to have the opportunity to spend together over the next few weeks has made those special Kentucky days of becoming family spring back to life. It will be such a terrible, horrible waste of this unfortunate opportunity if families squander the time completely by being glued to social media, checking emails every few minutes, watching TV in five different rooms or playing video games the same way. Don’t waste this inconvenience! Take the time to talk. Eat meals together. Play board games with the whole family. Really get to know each other. Heck, paint that room and clean that closet if you want! Did I say “talk?” Especially if you are a parent, draw your children out. Get to know them. You might actually like them.
Yes, you think because you are family and live in the same house, that you know each other… not so. The electronic age has made us a people that live our lives internally. We really don’t talk to our families. We have conversations and pass along information, but we don’t really talk to each other. We know the facade that they want us to know. Change that! Make a sincere effort to change that.
The world is a scary place, and we will all be going back out into that world. Everyone is worried about this contagious virus that could be just a breath or a touch away. I completely trust my God and His provision for me, so my encouragement is to “not fear, but be smart.” The Bible tells us that , God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) Wouldn’t it be awesome if the time that is being spent together now created family units that carried outside of our homes and created a massively contagious sense of community family out in that world — a sense of, dare I say it, kindness, compassion, caring and love.
See past the inconvenience. Spend this time with your family. Don’t fret about it. Don’t consider it an inconvenience. Make it count! Make it last!
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5 ESV)
‘But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—” (Psalm 103:17 NIV)
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)