It has always been a special time in my family. The sun will just be rising, coffee brewing, the dog barking.
Every morning that I can remember, my family has gathered in our small living room to spend time together. So as the sun is rising and the birds are chirping, we talk, read, pray, laugh, and sometimes even cry together.
The house is sometimes a mess because after the busyness of four kids, one dog, and crazy schedules, life can appear a little out of hand! As the day begins, it seems as if chaos is going to spill into every part of our lives. But not yet. Six-thirty is for family.
I remember one morning in particular. It was still dark, and no one was happy to wake up. All of us kids were grumpy, and the house was still a mess from the day before. Some of us had homework to finish, and the bacon was burning in the oven. It seemed like sitting around talking together would be a waste of precious time. But as my dad took my mom’s hand and called the rest of us in to join them in the living room, I realized what this time was about. It was one unique way my parents showed their genuine love for each other and for us. Their willingness to drop everything for this special time is part of what held our family together.
I know now that the love my parents give to my family, the love they show for us kids, is stronger because of the love they have for each other. There has never been a time when I questioned their love. Their marriage is not perfect, and sometimes they fight. But they are real, and they are willing to go through the ups and downs of life together.
Dad and Mom made it very clear that we are a team that sticks together, and we do life together. They want to know about our struggles, our victories, and what is happening in our lives. And those six-thirty mornings are a demonstration of the love and commitment that my parents vow to us and that we vow to each other.
When I was little, I assumed that this was the norm. All families did life together and got up to spend time with each other. All families treated each other with love and respect, even when they did not like each other. But now that I’m older, I realize just how unique my family life is.
One of my friends grew up in a home that forgot what it meant to be a team. She was a product of her parents’ broken relationship. At a young age, her parents divorced and for as long as she can remember, she has been caught between her mother and father, who fight each other for her attention. Her own parents were no longer together to jointly support her, to cheer her on as a team. As I’ve watched her struggle with her self-worth and her own relationships since then, I’ve realized how my parents’ commitment to doing family together has strengthened our family against falling apart, given us a picture of what a marriage should look like, and empowered us to live life fully as a team.
Like a dedicated team gets up early, practices with each other, and prepares for game-day, my parents rally our family to get up early and prepare together for the day ahead. My parents knew that having those you love behind you, encouraging you, and supporting you helps you not just to survive in this crazy world, but to thrive.
Life can be broken. Life can feel devoid of love. Life can be lonely. But having the foundation my parents laid in our home has helped me realize the importance of having a family behind you, rooting you on, as part of your team. I believe in love because if you’re a family, you’re a team.
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