God calls all families to love, follow, and serve Him, but the way in which He calls us to do it looks different for everyone. -Colleen DugganThere are many facets of family life that have dwindled due to our overly regulated and exposed culture. But now might be the time to question the overall goodness in such activities. Do we put family first? After all, our children may not have the same friends in ten or twenty years, but they will always have their siblings. Do we find it difficult to even sit down for family dinner? There is much more to childhood than weekday athletic practices, weekend play performances, and the best, most expensive tutors. Childhood is where we learn to dream beyond this world. Childhood is the time when innocent souls have the ability to explore the spiritual and creative, the world beyond the black and the white. In this world, children learn to love and find security within the family unit. The focus on family life has deviated to unhealthy levels of selfishness, loneliness, and lack of will power. As a society, we have traveled so far from a simple and loving home centered around Christ that many try to fill that void with non-stop activities. Our culture thrives on food, and not always food that is beneficial for our bodies, but it no longer understands the importance of family meals. We lack the ability to appreciate that food and faith bring us together – not only eating the food, but cultivating it, shopping for it, prepping it, and finally serving it to those we love while acknowledging who we are dependent upon - God. If we brought back these sacred activities into the lives of our families and friends, there would be quite a change in the culture. Not only does the shift in culture need to focus on the needs of the family unit, but as parents striving towards Our Lord, we must also allow ourselves to give in: not to the whims of our children but to the Will of God. Colleen Duggan uses the example of a donkey who will fight and kick with an extreme level of stubbornness, but also how this same animal can be hardworking and seek peace. The personality behind the donkey, which carried Our Lady into Bethlehem and Our Lord on Palm Sunday, should also be a reference point for us. We fight and kick towards our goals and our desires without stopping to patiently uncover God’s Will for our family. It may take a level of humility on our part, to beautifully submit to Our Lord and thereby find freedom through ultimate submission just as the donkey did. To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Have we recently examined our schedules? Do we spend more time transporting children around to activities instead of spending time as a family unit? Can adjustments be made to our daily lives in order to focus on quality time with our family which gives honor and glory to God? (This may be a great opportunity to include the children in planning family outings or a special dinner celebration.)
- Have we set unrealistic parenting goals that don’t fit well for our family? Set aside a few minutes at the end of each week to reflect on what is and isn’t working. Are our parenting practices in place more to please others rather than to assist the growth of our family?
- By examining the donkey’s service towards Our Lord, do we also submit our daily crosses and personal desires to our vocation or do we kick and fight against His Will for us as we travel the rugged path towards heaven?
Copyright 2018 Danielle Heckenkamp
About the Author
Danielle Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and six children. Danielle writes about her daily experiences as a mom and love for her Catholic Faith. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. You can find more of Danielle's writing at Homegrown Living or step inside her daily life on Instagram.