There was a time the family culture I dreamed of seemed as though it would always be a dream. I found myself as a mom increasingly idealizing what I dreamed of for my family. My husband and I spent hours talking about what was important to us. What did we want our kids to leave home with? What did we want the atmosphere of our home to be like?
I dreamed of my intentionally cultivated home when it seemed like only a fairy tale. I was drowning in diapers and laundry; yet, I felt stirred and alive when I read authors like Sally Clarkson and Edith Schaeffer. I had always appreciated truth, but now I was starting to see that truth is most alive when accompanied by goodness and beauty.
As the idea of family culture started to take shape, I learned that family culture is not trying to replicate what has worked in someone else’s home. It’s personal. We all have a one-of-a-kind family with a unique fabric, a rich history, and a story that lives on in the unchartered days ahead.
Still, I tend to go for the gusto. My friends know this about me. I effectively nerd out over whatever I’m inspired (or obsessed) about. I aspired to peaceful mealtimes, a household of mastered habits and an insatiable thirst for rich literature and history.
What I wish I had known is that resilience is half the battle when fostering a family culture. It’s not that anyone had failed to warn me. It’s just that it’s more romantic to envision it all going well, like a well-tested formula that would surely add up to a deeply satisfying home experience. Boy, was I wrong.
Many of my brilliant book selections fell flat. Inspired meals were met with complaints and drama. Habits were harder to form than I thought, especially my own. It looked like one fumble after another, except for the occasional victory, which I often forgot to celebrate.
Here’s what I know now. Family culture is stewarded moment by moment. It looks less like perfection, and more like forgiveness. It looks less like living our story well and more like posturing our hearts to believe that the Author who put this family together is weaving His goodness all throughout. It’s recognizing that my response to my children’s momentary disinterest is more important than the moral of the story I long to tell. Family culture is cultivated when I’m honest about my fears, about where my value comes from, and by taking many, many deep breaths. I’m doing holy work when I admit my wrong and make my presence a safe place for others to feel, to repent, and to be restored.
My heart has become more free as I’ve embraced resilience in the vision of family. My disposition has grown calmer as I learn to discern the chasm between intention and control. Those little hearts have started to embrace this unspoken vision as we’ve acknowledged Joy as a supreme companion in all our endeavors. And through all the messes, hiccups and genuinely hard days, we’ll keep on cultivating our hearts and homes with intention, but most of all, with trust.
To all my empty-nester friends, this is for you too. Wives and mothers like me feel so strengthened and encouraged by your love, your example, your interest and your support as we navigate the tides of culture with a growing idea of what we want to pass down to the next generation. Tell us your story. Lend us your ear and your gracious wisdom. And join us as we do our best and trust God with the rest.
So, sisters, light a candle. Read a book. Play a game. Make a tradition. Try something new. Slow down a little. Follow the spark and embrace the adventure in disguise all around you. Because the vision of family stirring in your soul is not for the far off, one day. It’s in this moment, one decision at a time.
If you find yourself struggling as a mom, feeling that you’re not enough, you may enjoy this video.