In a broken and weakening world, we can still build up a strong home.
In my four decades of life, the world has never felt more fragile, shaky, weak. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been. Pick up a history book, pick up a Bible, and you will find there really isn’t much new under the sun. But that doesn’t change the way the last 12 months or so have felt.
Just over a year ago my seemingly healthy dad had a heart attack and that began the thinning for me. I got a head start holding the future more loosely and being reminded of how quickly life can change. But soon enough, we were all in the same wobbly boat, navigating the unexpected and unknown, isolated, and yet very much in this together.
Hard things sift us in big ways. But sometimes the sifting doesn’t stop. Sometimes refining requires endurance. And instead of running for cover, waiting for this too to pass, it is wise to think how we can use these days to strengthen foundations (Psalm 11:3) and “make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:13).
This is exactly what Paul was saying to the church at Ephesus, when he reminded them to be imitators of God, walking as children of light, and exposing darkness. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15) I feel that like an Ephesian, friend.
So what does that mean for us here? What does that look like when we feel scared or numb when we’re tempted to tune out, all of our steps feel clumsy, and we don’t know even know where to begin?
4 Tips to Build a Strong Home
First, we remember truth.
This seems obvious, but it’s not. Our reflexes dull quickly and partial truth, half-truths, or all-out lies, propagate. So it is our job to take thoughts captive and make them obedient. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Jesus breathes with us, grieves with us, and is patient with our struggle here, friend. I’m tempted to try to muscle through hard things, but truth is remembering the One who gets my weakness, whose heart beats like mine, who was tempted in every way, every way, and yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ) He is gentle and lowly in heart and invites me, weak and weary, to learn from Him. (Matthew 11:29)
We stay tied to the vine.
I’m a Bible study girl. I’ve developed the habit over days and weeks, months, and years, and it has become a comfortable routine for me. But when my world shakes, when the people I love hurt deeply, I’m humbled by how tepid my traditions can be. My mind reels rather than reads. I am tempted to reach for the news or some sort of update rather than sit quietly before the Lord. And it leaves me malnourished, fumbling through my day. But He told me this is how it works – that He is the vine and I’m a branch meant to abide in Him in order to bear fruit. (John 15) The root word for Abide here hints not just toward connection, but toward endurance and perseverance. Leading a family, strengthening a home, begins with us, here, friend.
We start small, close.
It is easy to think big problems require big solutions and in the process ignore all of the small things right in front of us. In reading Rod Dreher’s book recently, I was reminded of the powerful impact of strong families, working faithfully to live out and pass on their faith. In a culture that seems intent on shattering the traditional family, those who seek to humbly and faithfully build at home are engaged in an inestimable act of resistance. How do we do this?
We remember truth and stay tied to the Vine. (See above) Our friends and families are hearing our faith and our fears; they are watching how we respond. And we keep building from there – passing on stories of faith, committing Scripture to memory, establishing a virtuous family culture, introducing our children, through books and movies, to people of courage and faith and loyalty.
We learn to plod.
This isn’t flashy, friend. I’ve never seen it used in a marketing campaign or a lipstick ad, but we are to be about the business of plodding, of planting seeds faithfully and trusting God to grow them, to give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6), because He loves our family even more than we do. Our world loves to boast of 30 days results, life hacks, and quick fixes, but the way of the cross is a daily dying to ourselves – to our fears, to the sin that clings so close – and trusting His finished work, taking Him at His word, as we seek to live out our calling with endurance.
This is why we plod, because a shaky world is less frightening when we know the path, when we have traveled it day and day out and worn the trail. And while an abrupt shaking might cause us to trip a second – the woman who knows where she’s going picks herself back and up, sets her gaze, and keeps right on moving.
Much may feel new here, friend. Be we have a Savior who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He has given us a lamp and light (Psalm 119:105) , a history of faithfulness, and a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Let’s keep moving forward, strengthening the foundations of our homes faithfully because we know this work matters.
Walking this out right along with you,
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.