As a new season begins, MaryBeth Eberhard offers encouragement to turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us identify the unique gifts He has given us.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
We’ve heard this so often, or seen it inscribed on plaques we hang in our homes, but what do we really mean when we say it? For Joshua, these words were bold and declarative. He was throwing down the gauntlet in a loving but firm challenge to the Israelite people. Having launched four into the academic and working world recently, I am pondering how to live this out fully in my vocation as wife and mother. How can I guide my family to claim this as part of our family identity?
Thanks to The Beatles we are reminded that all we need is love, but experience tells me there is more to walking fully into the woman or man God has called us to be. We must realize that raising our families is a mission. Mission is a strong word. It means to go out into the world (outside our comfortable family home) and spread the love and joy of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us identify the unique gifts He has given us both individually and as a family. What is the unique mission for our family, our “Domestic Church”? Then we need to go out and live it fully.
What gifts have been given to your family that are unique to you and how do you use them? Social media has its negatives, but I love reading peoples stories and seeing them on mission. For example, the friends who sponsor blood drives because their life has been impacted by the need for this resource themselves, or the family whose kids you see always playing sports but when in the stands with other parents. They are supportive, encouraging, and building community.
How do you bring Jesus into those conversations? How do you share your story? You might not call it mission, but that is what you are doing: living out the gifts you have been given. Families just need the mental switch flipped to where who we have been created to be is now a realization of what we are called to do. Imagine how much focus and clarity could be brought to our lives if everything we did each day was done with that focus. It puts purpose into our words, actions, and our thoughts!
My family’s mission is simply to welcome. We try to welcome in the stranger and call them friend, whether that be in our home, at the grocery store, on the street corner or in the doctor’s office. Knowing that that is who we are gives us an identity and a purpose, and over the years we have thrived and been blessed in living it.
As my family does a bit of a reset examining who God is calling us to be and how we can use those gifts more fully, I realize that love is indeed the foundation of that. However, being intentional in living out virtues within our mission is the actual structure we are building. It is the offering we give to the Lord. Attuned to our mission, we speak charitably to others and extend mercy often. Compassion is paramount and we humbly allow ourselves to be the vessels in the situations God places. us. This model of life is a life lived fully, arms wide open for Jesus.
Reflecting again on that passage from Joshua, I am struck by the certainty and boldness I hear in Joshua’s voice. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” In a time of temptation to worship false Gods, and return to old ways of living, Joshua’s declaration to the Israelities is a bold flag struck into the ground placing his family on mission. In his papal letter to us, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis leads like Joshua by sharing how God has called him into living a life on mission:
I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising, healing and freeing.
Take a moment this season as many begin anew with school to reflect on the gifts your family has. Look at each member of your family and perhaps ask them what they think their gifts are. Point out the ones you see in them. Elevate the life your family is living by bringing it to the height of being on mission. What are ways you can go out and live love on mission?
Copyright 2023 MaryBeth Eberhard
About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. Read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.