Families are for loving. But it's no secret that parents and children sometimes disagree about rules and other things. When bad feelings develop, we don't have to resign ourselves to a hopeless argument. We can successfully love our way to a solution.
Does that sound a little too simplistic - to ''love our way''? Yet that may be the very answer we need.
It's natural for parents to cherish their children, and for children to feel deep affection for their parents. But this can seem hard sometimes if rudeness, self-will, or impatience, on the part of parent or child, has the floor. What kind of love can penetrate this? What love can actually bring - and keep - harmony for us all?
It's God's love, which has no limits. A New Testament writer says, ''God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'' n1 Because God's love is everywhere present, we can be sure it can't be weak or run out.
n1 I John 4:16.
Let's not, in our frustrating, challenging moments, forget the real, ever-present, powerful nature of God's love. Rather, let's remember it right then, right at that moment when we need it the most. And we might remember that because God made man in His image, everyone's genuine selfhood is the likeness of Love.
When we're working at faithfully and patiently loving someone in our family (who's acting not very lovable), are we supposed to appreciate his faults? Are we supposed to love him in spite of his faults? How are we supposed to love him?
We can strive to love that individual the way God does - in other words, discern his identity as created by God: faultless and completely good. This is the most unselfish and powerful loving anybody can do! It doesn't mean that someone's mistakes or faults don't have to be dealt with. It means that we don't have to believe the faults are part of the person. Instead, we can perceive that the individual's real self, his real God-created identity, spiritual man made in God's likeness, is good. Man doesn't include anything bad; he's not some kind of a mixture of good and bad.
When you resolve to love someone in your family by really sticking to the fact that his or her real identity is the child of God and doesn't include faults or idiosyncrasies, you're doing something very special for that family member. This is Christly love, and this kind of affection is a prayer that heals. It really does. It heals anger and stubbornness and misunderstanding and loneliness, and it even heals physical problems.
The thing is, we have to stick with this loving with our whole heart and not let it go, no matter how much we're tempted to get angry, hurt, or discouraged. Even if we have to keep at it silently and patiently for a long time, this will eventually bring harmony. Loving the way Christ Jesus did, works. People can feel this kind of loving going on. And we can feel it. It makes us better and helps others to be better, too.
Everyone wants to love and feel loved. Stubbornness, toughness, even apathy, are often indications that someone doesn't feel loved or that he is afraid. But patient, steadfast, Christly love gets through and melts fear and toughness and temper in ourselves and others. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''No power can withstand divine Love.'' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 224.
Divine Love inspires us to be strong and joyful and forgiving. It helps us keep a good sense of humor as well.
When everything is quiet and you have some time alone, think about the idea that each member of your family is God's child, created and loved by God, and made to live and express love. Know it about yourself, too.
In the New Testament is a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to encourage people to stick with Christly love in working things out. He said that charity ''beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.'' n3 J. B. Phillips translates this passage: ''Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love never fails.''
n3 I Corinthians 13:7, 8.
God's unchanging love will keep you steady and clear when you need it. It will help you find, and keep, harmony in your family. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Keep yourselves in the love of God Jude 1:21.