Looking for a Joyful Family? There’s Only One Way to Find It
JUNE 9, 2016
She had nine daughters when I met her. Petite and spunky, she thought nothing of approaching a hurting young visitor to the church her husband pastored and hugging the heck out of her. Never mind the micro-mini skirt and heavy-handed make-up job; Donna saw past the outward cries for worth and value and straight into the heart where the deeper need was crying out for Jesus to fill the empty spaces.
One afternoon I remember calling their home, and Donna could barely speak as she answered the phone. “Hello” was interrupted by uncontrollable laughing, and I could hear a cacophony of joyful laughter in the background. “I’m sorry”, she giggled. “The girls and I are just cracking up about something!”
I remember smiling in spite of myself; their laughter was contagious, delivered to me through a phone line a hundred miles away. I’m certain that whatever I was calling about was deep and serious, but my load had just been lightened by the contiguous jocularity of a faithful woman and her beautiful daughters.
It shaped my own mothering. Too often, my overly-serious approach to whatever held my passions (parenting being at the top of the list) wiped the joy right out from underneath us, and though our home could be described as a well-oiled machine, it took a fun dad to come back at the end of the day and attract the kids to his cheer and humor.
Little by little, by way of big, jolting trials and in sweet, soft whispers, God has softened my rough workhorse edges and taught me to unfurl my grip. To trust His work in the lives of my kids and to stop controlling everything we do in hopes that the outcome would please him.
We already please Him. His joy and laughter are not brought about by our good behavior or choices; they are steeped in the perfection that Jesus attained on our behalf, and when God looks at us, that’s what He sees — Jesus.
We delight God because of what Jesus has done.
Nowadays our home is a loud, moving, breathing, noisy, fun, crazy oasis in the middle of a world that beckons us like the White Witch to forget where our everlasting joy comes from. I still struggle at times to let go of my controlling tendencies and to put the burden for my kids’ faith and futures back where they belong — at the foot of the cross. That’s a surefire way to lose all our joy and to sink into despair. But when we remember that God has all of this sewn up in a way that He has crafted for our good and His glory, that our identity is in our Lord Jesus and not in our performance as mothers, the joy bubbles up from the bottom of our souls.
We delight God because of what Jesus has done. It is finished! And we can move through our days with the easy laughter that sees the joy of Christ’s hand in everything He has done for us.
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of 8, speaker for groups and conferences around the country, columnist for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, author of two eBooks, and podcaster on HomeschoolingIRL. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Crosswalk.com, Arizona Home Education Journal, and Washington Family Magazine.