Thursday, June 16, 2016

The First Way Your Family Can Draw Closer -- Be Together

During the eight years we lived in Peru it was the height of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) Terrorist group and it wasn't safe for us to go more than a few hours outside of Lima unless we flew to another city. Camping was out of the question. But I had a group of 5 women I was discipling and I wanted to have some sort of retreat with them, so I settled on having a sleepover in my living room. 

There we were, six women ranging from early 20s to early 50s sleeping on the floor of my living room. (I think we gave the oldest the long couch to sleep on.) We talked late into the night, even though my brain shut down at 9:30 and Spanish no longer came out coherently! Of course, I was the first to fall asleep.

In the morning, I announced to the women that I overcame a great temptation during the night. They all said, "You wanted to go sleep in your own bed upstairs!" That was definitely it. I thought about my husband in our comfortable bed and wondered if I was crazy to be sleeping on the parquet floor.

After that we had a bunch of private running jokes that we could just look at each other, or say one or two words and start giggling. It drew us closer together. 

I have come to believe that there are (at least) five ways you can draw closer to people and families can become closer to each other. I'm going to talk about one in this post, and one in each of the next four posts. They are 

  • Be Together
  • Laugh Together
  • Pray Together
  • Work Together
  • Cry Together

1. Be Together -- Sounds pretty obvious. That is what these women and I did that night. We didn't have deep discussions, or bare our souls but we spent time together. 

I remember an annual conference when I was growing up that was every evening Monday through Thursday and all day Friday and Saturday for one week. It was an hour away from where we lived and many people from our church would go, so we carpooled with a different group each year. After spending 12 hours together in the car over the space of a week, we had gotten to know each other and become friends.

On our younger son's wedding day he had six groomsmen, five of whom spent the morning at our house waiting for their time to go be in the photographs. As they ate lunch together, I listened to these young men from different eras of my son's life get to know each other by talking about their favorite movies and why they liked them, what kind of food they prefer, and what sports they watch. They didn't get deep into life goals or thoughts on marriage, but they started getting to know each other over lunch and a game of Settlers of Catan.

Families can easily work on time together as they all live in the same house. But you have to be sure you actually spend time living there and not just sleeping and grabbing a bite to eat. It seems like it should "just happen", but really it has to be intentional.

How can you do it? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Family meals -- you knew I would say that, didn't you? If you carve out half an hour (and some days an hour) to sit around the table, eat, and talk to each other, you will have a regular time to spend with each other.
  • Car rides -- the "taxi mom" is a reality in today's life. Make that time count. Don't let everyone plug in their earbuds all the time, but listen to something together, talk, even pray! A friend of ours drove her children and several others to the school where she was Director every day. Anyone who rode in Mrs. Afanador's car knew that on the way they would pray--outloud! No one was forced, but everyone was encouraged to bring to God whatever was on their hearts.
  • Outings -- whatever your family likes to do, do it together. For us it was, and still is, picnics. As you might know, I don't particularly enjoy restaurants, but I love a picnic! But for you it might be attending a kids' sport event, going to the mall, taking a hike, and yes, maybe, eating out. Just do it together.
  • Road Trips -- this is a longer version of rides, but where you are "trapped" together in one car for hours on end. Interweave family time between time-for-earbuds-in. Play the alphabet game, guess how far it is to that sign up there, sing a song for each letter of the alphabet (we did this often), listen to an Adventures in Odyssey (our family favorite), or a sermon, tell jokes, or just listen to music together. Back in the day before personal music players, my parents had the rule that we each could listen to one tape of our choice and no one could complain or make rude comments. My mom chose hymns. I picked a popular Christian artist, my brother had rock music. And Dad? He had a 90 minute blank tape!

Just choose activities where you get to talk to each other, not just watch a movie in a dark theater, or if you do, go out for ice cream after to talk about it. 

The first level of drawing closer to each other is just spending time together. Make time for your family today!

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Tell me how your family spends time together!

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  1. Isn't this true? Engagement while together...because without it and some lighthearted fun and hugs and listening and playing...we're just sharing the same space but not engaging. Time slips by quickly, so when we have that blessed time together - these things you've written are important to come away having connected with those we love. I'm stopping in today from Lisa's Grand Social.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, engaging makes all the difference in time spent in the same place at the same time.

  2. We try to spend some time just hanging out. Not doing an activity but just chilling. Even if it is just for a hour. Funny stories usually come out and laughter (which is always good) follows. Sometimes the discussion is more serious. It is harder and yet more important now that our children are grown and out of the house. This non-stress time is good to reconnect.

  3. Thank goodness our children make there children put their phones away when we have a get together. Thank goodness. I even see kids in church with their's. That bugs me, sorry old school

  4. Wonderful ideas on how to draw your family together! They are so basic but are the most important things we should be doing.

    1. Somehow I don't think that 100 years ago people had to be told this!



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