Raymond Dix: Family is what makes life worth living
April 8, 2011 12:08PM
Updated: January 23, 2012 12:32AM
On a daily basis it would be an understatement to say that our world is a difficult place. The globe turns and events happen. Another earthquake in Japan, impending threats from nuclear radioactive material, wars in the Middle East and Northern Africa and political unrest in many places make this world topsy-turvy to say the least. The economic situation worldwide makes life difficult for those who struggle to find food each day necessary to survival. Able-bodied people looking for legitimate work find it tough to secure gainful employment, even in the United States, the richest country on Earth. This is the way of life on this planet we call home.
The state of things in the world and specifically, in our country, can leave even the casual, most optimistic observer shaking the collective head of dismay. It is tough for many of us to function at a high level of hope when most things around us seem to be hopeless. The operative question is how to maintain emotional balance in circumstances that are often surprisingly unpleasant and difficult. Where do we turn for strength in times like these?
I would suggest that for those of us with families there lies a place of retreat to that which is really important and that adds strength and meaning to our lives. Pope John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” I think he is right, family is the social unit that determines the success or failure of our neighborhoods, our communities, our nation and our world.
I consider myself blessed to have a wonderful family. A spouse who cares deeply, children who light up my life at the darkest moments, siblings that support what I do and, most of all, parents who sacrificed much to provide opportunity for me to succeed. My extended family serves a positive purpose in my life as well, providing optimism and hope as they each navigate their various struggles in life. From sickness to disappointment, from discouragement to despair, in good times and bad, it is a blessing to watch them overcome and succeed.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with my family at my cousin’s wedding. As I sat there watching her pledge her love to and receive the promise of love from her husband-to-be, my mind could not help but to drift to the importance of family relationships. I considered my numerous failures with my own family and prayed that my failures would not hinder any member of my family. In addition, I also thought about the many people in this world who struggle to maintain those relationships or, sadly, do not have them at all.
For some, circumstances of life currently prevent the experience of a loving, caring family. Many of us know people in just this circumstance. They were children abandoned from birth, resulting from divorce or simple rejection by one or both parents. They are neighbors who live in a state of loneliness, trying to maintain some sense of self-esteem as they watch others experience the approving nature of family love. They are friends whose parents may no longer be alive and experience a loss that is akin to a ship without a rudder, making life difficult to direct. In addition, they are those from whom loved ones left them far too soon, by act of providence or the evil of humanity, leaving them longing for understanding and missing the presence of those they love.
This is the reality for many in our world, feeling lost without the support that derives from the love of family. Those of us who have the presence of family have the opportunity to touch the lives of others, sharing the great gift of family, given to us by our creator, with those who lack this expression in their lives.
We can moan all day long about how the family must come back together and rebuild present as well as future generations, but without the direct actions of those who can share our families by building relationships with others whom we know to need the expression of love in their lives, our words become meaningless.
True family is meeting the needs of those around us to the best of our ability, challenging them to commit to success and take advantage of every opportunity to reach their goals. Novelist Richard Bach said, “Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.” This is true, especially since we are all members of the same human family. Embrace love, reject hate and learn to forgive error. These are ingredients we can all share as one family. Tomorrow is never promised, so let us do all we can with the day we have.
Raymond C. Dix Jr. is senior pastor of Berean Fellowship Church, Gary.