Sunday, August 2, 2015

Family and the college transition

Exodus 20:12 Honor your Father and your mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land your Lord God is living you.

I love my family so much. They are my rock, the people that understand me the most, and some of my greatest role models: yet they are also *sigh that crazy family, that I sometimes want to just run away from and live my own life young and free.

I think it is obvious that we have some major "family issues" in America. You can see this in the mixed up priorities that place work, football games, and new job opportunities above family members' wellbeing. Parents and children fail to have loving relationships. Divorce rates are rampart. American elderly and grandparents are left to go to nursing homes to live their last years alone often without the support of the people whom they have lovingly poured so much sacrifice into.
Many college students are leaving their families without looking back. Taking their resources and money yet refusing to call their parents and becoming rebellious against them is an expected trend. Calling your parents and actually obeying is often seen as pointless and old-fashioned to the world.

College is a time when you leave your family for part of the year and begin to become your own person; choosing your own beliefs, people surrounding you, and your own profession with which you can support yourself. College only lasts about 8 months of the year though leaving adolescents with four months to decide what they want to do with their free time, probably returning to their family for support. Most high school and college students depend on their parents to pay their phone bill, health insurance, food budget, and at least part of their tuition. A typical college student wants their parents to still provide full support to them when they want it, yet they want their parents to give them full reigns of all choices and responsibilities. Isn't this a little unfair?

Instead of simply using our parents for money all throughout college and then leaving them once we find a career for ourselves and a person to marry- doesn't Christ expect more from how we should treat our family?

Proverbs 1:8-9 tells us to pay special attention to our father and mother' instruction, that they will be a graceful garland around our head and ornaments around our neck. Proverbs 15:20 says that a wise men will bring joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother. We are commanded to not just respect our parents, but to love them, to carefully obey their instructions, and to bring joy to them.

In a fast-paced world, where life is all about "me" and we are trampled with temptations to move away from our families or ignore them for new friends how can we love and bring joy to the first humans who loved us? Here are just a few ways:

1. Forgive your family for their mistakes. No family is perfect. No Christian family, nor pastor is perfect Amen. As we grow to see the mistakes of our parents, may we remember Christ's mercy and grace in dealing with us and may we accept them for who they have been to us with love.

2. Appreciate the sacrifices your family has made for you. You do not understand the inconvenience or pain of having a baby wake up multiple times during the night, watching your very own son or daughter get hurt, providing the support for a child. You have no idea the sacrifices your parents have made for you and the way your life has been changed by you.

3. Prioritize your family. Decide that because Christ commands us to value our mother and father and to respect them, you will put their needs before your own. That you will value your family above your own dreams and educational goals.

4. Make time for your family. Call your mother. Until you are a mom, you will never understand a mother's love for her sons and daughters. Call home. Listen to your family. Care about their pains, about their joys. Choose to be involved in their life. If they need your help, help them.

5. Obey. This is one of the most difficult things, I believe, because we often think that we know best. Sometimes our parents may not understand why we want to do a certain career or why we like a certain man. When our parents don't agree with what we want, we must pray that God would give us and our parents wisdom so that we can think on the same page. In rare cases, God may ask us to go against our parents' will but in most cases, God will help us and our parents to see each others' sides of the issue and make a compromise that can still honor Him and them.

6. Choose to have a better attitude when with your family. Boring family vacations? Tired of going to tea parties with your grandma? Wishing you were on a trip with your friends from school? Get over yourself. Enjoy the time you have with your family, you don't know how much time you will be given.

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