There are only so many board games one family can play and still enjoy it! I was realizing during my fourth game of cards the other night, if I want to foster unity in my home, we need to focus on something outside of ourselves.
I first learned this when I served as a missionary — families would visit and remark after a week, they felt more “connected” than when they had gone to a beach. There’s something about seeing the best in each other, thinking about someone else, and sacrificing, that simply pulls us together.
An added bonus? When we focus on others, doing what we can in this present moment, rather than worry about what will happen in the future, it lowers anxiety.
Below are a few ways a family could live “on mission” during this unique season:
1. Pick someone you agree to encourage, think about what would bring them delight, and order a gift for them online. Result: generosity.
2. Create a play list where everyone contributes one meaningful song. When tensions are high, or chores need to be done, turn it on as a message to the whole house – we are in this together. Result: connection.
3. Pick a book you want to read as a house. At a set time every day, gather to hear 15 minutes read aloud. Maybe consider another family or friend who would want to join you digitally for that reading. Result: investment.
4. Brainstorm as a family a list of people to reach out to, everyone contributing at least one name. Divide up the list and call with the idea of being a listening ear. Share at dinner how those conversations went. Result: empathy.
5. Everyone clean out their closets, toy bins, etc… and find a place where you can donate your extras. Result: simplicity.
6. Think about how fun it is to receive mail. Get out some stationary, or order cards online, and sit together, writing a note of encouragement to someone in the medical field, or whose family has been impacted by the virus. Result: kindness.
7. Take a family walk around the block, and make a point to stop and engage with whomever you come across, maintaining appropriate social distancing. Result: approachability.
8. Everyone pitch in to make double the dinner. Choose someone who could use a break from cooking and drive it to them. Result: service.
9. Are you already at the store? Think of someone you could text and offer to pick up groceries for them. Result: thoughtfulness.
10. Sit down and talk about whose life has been disrupted by the quarantine. It could be someone sick, or who has lost a job, or who has postponed a wedding. Decide to fast a meal and pray together for them. Result: sacrifice.
The result of looking around to the needs of others are generosity, investment, simplicity, approachability, sacrifice, thoughtfulness, service, kindness. Yes, I would like more of that…
I have been telling my family — if we do this right — when this season is over, we’ll understand how critical “we” is over “me.” This virus is costing a lot, but we should demand something of value in return — empathy for others, connection with family, an outward focus — those are gifts we can appreciate for the rest of our lives.