What kind of dad are you? Do you play sports with your kids? Take them on trips? Maybe teach them how to use your favorite tools? Regardless of your career, interests, or hobbies, your family depends on you.
When medical challenges hit, though, the pressure on you will undoubtedly increase, and so will the needs of those under your care. There were many times along our medical journey so far that the intersection of stresses and the needs of my family left me feeling like the tank was on empty. It’s in those times that it’s easy to feel alone, short-tempered, or like you need to retreat. It’s also in those times that God’s grace increases and He strengthens and inspires us beyond what we think He can bear.
Whether it was reviewing medical bills, sitting in waiting rooms grasping for answers, or getting discouraging results when a treatment plan didn’t work, there have been many times that I knew Mary Beth or the girls needed to know that in spite of the circumstance, we would make it as a family, that God was good, and that I loved them dearly.
In fact, whether you’re the breadwinner in your family or you stay home with your kids, your wife and kids look to you for stability, for a picture of what God the Father is like, and for love. This responsibility carries a lot of weight, but God also tells us that He will carry the burden with us and provide everything we need to lead well. Here are a few practical tips and resources that have helped me to keep our family strong and remembering God’s goodness and provision.
Phone a Friend
Spending time with other men to share what’s going on in your life is immensely valuable in maintaining perspective. I personally need to know that I’m not on an island and that others have gone before me and seen the Lord’s faithfulness. I can also look back to conversations with my dad, mentors, and friends that have not only shaped who I’ve become, but helped me to find the strength to lead my family well during stressful times.
Set a time once every couple of weeks for an encouraging breakfast, lunch, or coffee appointment. Reaching out when life is hectic can be hard, but it’s worth the time.
Get a Family Devotional
Your family looks to you for wisdom and spiritual guidance, but that doesn’t mean you have to be super-spiritual or know all the answers. In fact, I believe that our families need us to walk through finding wisdom together more than they need an answer ATM.
Devotional books are a great way to dive into God’s truth and learn together as a family. Find an age appropriate book that you can go through as a family. And if the first one you pick isn’t right, don’t worry. Try another option. Here are a couple options that have worked for us in our current life stage:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (This is one of our family favorites.)
- Every Day a Blessing: A Year of God’s Love (This is a devotional we currently use.)
Set a Recurring Prayer Reminder
Especially during major projects or intense seasons, I tend to get “in the zone” at work. There are also times that being engrossed in my job was a break from the pressures our family was facing. One of the things that I’ve been learning to do is take moments throughout the day to remember my family and pray for them.
These moments don’t have to be long, but it’s a way to keep perspective during my day, remember my need for the Lord’s provision and grace, and support and love my family. If you find it hard to find time during the day, you might consider setting a reminder on your phone, computer, or Fitbit every few hours as a subtle cue to remember and pray for those under your care.
Spend Time in the Word of God
Your mind, actions, and words will overflow with what’s in your heart, especially when you are in times of stress. Whether you’re currently facing medical challenges or you’re in a place of good health, making the time to keep God’s truth and promises in your heart will give you the wisdom and perspective you need when your family looks to you for guidance.
God’s promises have been a rock for our family, which is one reason that we intentionally post inspiring verses on our instagram account. Another way that you can keep God’s word at the forefront is through resources like the Bible app that can send you daily bible verses or devotional content.
Keep a Journal
This is one tip that I wish I had followed through the intense times of our family’s journey with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). In fact, one of the biggest surprises for me in writing content for helloHOPE is the way that God has met me as I’ve re-processed our story and experiences. He has given me insights into His goodness and purposes, He has helped me see times that He was present with me when I wasn’t aware, and He has helped me want to be a better husband and dad.
I’m only now realizing the how valuable it is to process through my emotions, views of God, and questions. Whether you use an app like Evernote or pick up a composition book or Moleskine, consider taking the time to jot down the things you’re learning, the ways God has met you, and the questions you are wrestling with.
Spread Hope (In the comments):
Do you have any resources that have helped you invest in keeping your family strong?
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