My Family Is My Strength
“Though others said I couldn’t make it, my family believed me.”
“The secret of my victory? It’s my family’s support!”
“Without my family, I couldn’t have achieved a great success that people admire.”
These comments are from the interviews with athletes who did a better job than expected even in poor surroundings, or successful figures in society. They say that they could overcome difficult times and reap the fruits of their efforts because they had their families beside them. Their stories bring smiles to our lips.
Support From Family
In February 2014, the Winter Olympic Games was held in Sochi, Russia. At that time, South Korean women’s short track speed skaters brought joyful news to their country by winning gold medals. Behind them were their families who spared nothing to support them, even though they were not well off: A brother who worked part-time to buy skates for his sister after taking a leave of absence, a mother who always encouraged her daughter by saying, “Good job. Everything will be all right,” so that her daughter would not experience discouragement, a father who drove a truck throughout the country to support her daughter and couldn’t afford to come home only twice or three times a month. The athletes’ achievements, which moved their whole country, were possible thanks to their families’ love and sacrifice.
In ordinary times, it seems to be hard to know that the very existence of your family gives great strength to you. A family proves its true value when one of its members or the whole family undergoes an ordeal.
In the late 1846, a group of pioneers who set out for California, U.S., ran into a snowstorm while crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range. About 80 people, including 15 single men and those who were with their family members, got isolated in the frozen wasteland near the present-day Donner Lake. When they were rescued the following spring, only three of the single men survived, whereas 60 percent of the people with their family members—children, the elderly, and even injured persons—survived. It was because the family members helped one another with comfort and care. Frank Schumacher, a German journalist, left a famous saying, “The family is the warranty for survival.” He emphasized the family cohesion, saying that the family is a unique group of people who always want to know where other members are, even though they are not living together now, so that they can give help when they are in danger.
Family members are in an extraordinary rapport where they are connected to one another, even though their relationship might be like a weak tie. Only your family members can sacrifice for you when you are in crisis, without expecting any reward or compensation. Sometimes, it can be bothersome or burdensome to live close to your family members, but they are the ones who will stay with you longer than anybody else. Your home, where your family dwells, is the only place you can rest your injured wings when you are exhausted from your tough life. This is why family counselors or experts unanimously say that you should treat your family better than anyone else.
Be a Good Person at Home as Well
It is generally accepted that being nice to your family is not easy though you are kind to all the other people in the world. Indeed, it is hard for you to be generous to your family. This is clearly reflected in the advertising phrase—“Show Kindness to Your Family, As You Do to People Outside,” which was used in the Family Love Campaign several years ago.
A cheerful female employee at her workplace just waves her hand at her mother’s question dismissively without even looking at her; a son who loves to talk with his friends says nothing at home; a flower shop owner who is nice to her customers loses her temper at home; and a manager who is kind to his staff is indifferent to his wife at home.
Actually, people do not try to be kind to their family members as much as they do to others. Adults justify themselves by saying that they can just relax and have some rest at home because they are stressed from trying to please others outside, and most children think that they cannot communicate with their parents. People tend to guess that their family members know how they feel because they are family or they understand one another. This is actually another cause of being stingy with heartfelt expressions toward their family members. They treat each other so casually because they feel too comfortable with each other, which often results in hurting one another.
The positive energy is latent in any family; it can increase or extinct, depending on family members who recognize it. External influences do not matter. We see many harmonious families full of energy, though they are not well off. According to an old saying, when one’s home is happy, all goes well. Indeed, the power of family, which enables everything to go well, comes from careful concern among family members, not external conditions.
Increase Family Power
When family members are faithful to their roles, family power works smoothly. As for the mother’s responsibility, she can boost the power just by setting a table on time. When the whole family gets together at the same table, the time well spent for their health can also be the time for family members to communicate and improve confidence in one another. Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest people, is a good example. In an interview with an economics journal, he said that the conversations at the table served as a foundation for his success as he recalled the time when he had meals with his family when he was young. The word “family,” which is sikgu (食口) in Korean, literally means people who live under the same roof and eat together.
This does not mean that mothers should do all household chores. If the mother has a job or she is weak, it is recommended that the whole family should divide up the household chores. The head of the family is no exception, because he is not the ruler but a part of his family. In a patriarchal society, most fathers regarded their family members as their belongings and spoke to them in a commending tone or even treated them in abusive ways. However, the perception has changed in these days, putting emphasis on the family power. Paternal authority comes from family members who respect their father. So, you must treat your wife and children respectfully in order to be an authoritative father. The father who helps his family members with housework and everything else, leading them in a gentle way, can earn their respect and have authority.
As for children who are somewhat mature, they need to think how thankful they should be to their parents. These days, teenagers tend to avoid talking with their parents, judging that their parents always scold them, and that there is a generation gap. As they spend most of time with their friends in school, they are closer to their friends than their parents. Still, there is no one who can be born without his or her parents. Unlike animals that can live by themselves right after birth, humans can survive only when their parents take care of them until they grow up at some point in their lives. If you do not forget to be grateful to your parents for giving you life, which cannot be bought with money or created by a scientific method, and for raising you, it will not be difficult to respect your parents.
There are many more ways to help family members understand and be considerate of one another. If you continuously practice at least one thing in your family, you will be able to feel your family power growing bigger day by day. Your small effort makes your family members happy and the happiness in your family gives you more strength, which creates a virtuous circle.
Things on this earth are a copy and shadow of things in heaven (Heb 8:5). As there is an earthly family, so there is a heavenly family; the heavenly family is as precious as the earthly family.
By having God’s flesh and blood, we’ve become members of the heavenly family, calling one another brothers and sisters (Jn 6:53–54; 2 Co 6:17–18). God has allowed us to dwell in Zion, which is a spiritual refuge for the souls of the heavenly family. Zion is a resting place for the heavenly children who are hurt while struggling to survive in this world which is likened to a battlefield. In Zion full of joy and happiness, we are comforted and encouraged.
The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isa 51:11
While we are supplied with the food of life from God every day and share joy and happiness together in Zion, the bond of love among the heavenly members continues to increase. But sometimes we give others a hard time while neglecting our roles in the gospel by insisting on our own opinions. This may be caused by the lack of care or respect for one another, as well as by our words and deeds that are not refined yet during the reborn process of being changed from the earthly ones into the heavenly ones.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Ro 12:9–11
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 1 Th 4:9
God has repeatedly taught us about brotherly love and has personally showed us the example of love. That’s because love is needed more than anything else so that the power of the heavenly family can function at its best. The salvation of our souls can only be achieved when the heavenly family members fulfill the law with love (Ro 13:10).
Let us open our ears and minds to our brothers and sisters who are in trouble. Let us reflect upon ourselves to see whether or not we have offended others with our careless words and deeds. The power that is exerted when the heavenly family members are united with love can make a miracle to save dying souls. Our efforts to create this miracle are the most beautiful in the eyes of God who earnestly wants all human beings to be saved.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity . . . It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. Ps 133:1–3