The first of a 3 part series examining the qualities that promote harmony, joy, and intimacy in family settings.
One of the best things at Christmas time is that we get to eat some of our favorite foods. Roast Chicken, mom’s fruit cake, ragout de boulettes, etc. So in keeping with the tradition, I thought that I would like to share with you some special recipes of my own.
Three actually. I call them “Mazzalongo’s Recipes for Success”:
When they interview people who seem to “have it all” and ask them what is really important to them, they will invariably answer, “My family is what is most important.”
Not money or power or fame. This is because our families enable us to enjoy our wealth and success, to share it and rejoice in it. Without family, it is hard to enjoy our blessings. Just ask the many lonely rich and powerful people who really feel their lack of family when they are alone with just their money.
So family is what everybody needs and wants but not everybody has.
For those fortunate enough to have relatives, here is a recipe for building and maintaining a successful family… because you see, just having relatives does not mean you have a family or a successful one.
2. Family Stew
A successful family has the following ingredients:
A. 2 parts devotion
Call it loyalty, commitment, family first, whatever. It simply means that each member is equally devoted to the family they belong to: husbands to wives, wives to husbands, children to parents, parents to children. Being devoted means that family comes before career, opportunity, personal comfort.
It is a husband putting his wife before his buddies; it is a child honoring his parents; it is a mother giving up her goals to achieve the goals of her family.
We love what families give us but that special joy costs us something too!
B. A mix of services
What I enjoy most about family is watching each member serve the other: a sister comforting a brother, a brother-in-law helping another in the family move his furniture. It is this mix of mutual service that we learn to know and love each other and this love is the unseen substance of what we share.
Receiving help and encouragement and giving the same creates the aroma of love that makes you want to be a part of the family.
C. A Sprinkling of Patience and Forgiveness
The day will come when somebody will hurt somebody else in the family. It is inevitable. It is going to happen so you have to be ready for it.
When it does, let us not do what unsuccessful families do:
- Gossip about the offense
- Pick sides and fight
- Pretend nothing happened and slowly grow cold towards one another.
- Sulk and pout and give everyone the silent treatment.
- Beat the other family member up.
(Have I covered everybody’s method here?)
If we have already added some patience and forgiveness to the recipe in advance, it will preserve our family from these things. Why? Patience means that we understand and accept that each one of us has faults, weaknesses, sins, they are just different than the ones we have. Patience realizes that it is the sin, the weakness in me that you do not like, not me. Patience accepts that everyone is doing the best they can at the moment.
Patience is willing to continue loving the other person because that is what we want when we screw up! (People to keep loving us. That is what successful families do, they keep loving us even when we are not at our best.)
Why forgiveness? Because the best solution to any conflict is forgiveness. When I forgive I neutralize anger, I repair broken relationships, I rebuild trust, I express my love in its most godly form.
Successful families remain that way not through compromise and arbitration (that is for unions and governments). No, successful families resolve differences, offenses, mistakes through patience and forgiveness.
I know this is true because it is how God maintains peace, harmony, and love in His family the church.
I know you each want your own families to succeed as I want mine to as well.
Remember the “Family Stew Recipe For Success”:
- 2 parts personal devotion
- A mix of active service
- A sprinkling of patience and forgiveness.
Continually stir with love and laughter and this family will be yours.