Fighting darkness, individualism & the family bed

Yikes, that title sounds fragmented.
But it’s not.

Since 1997, when God took my life that was falling apart from serious anxiety and need to control a scary world, and brought me a hope and a future, I have been fighting the darkness that had consumed me and trying to figure out how to fight it for my children and the world.

This weekend, Joel and I went to a Paul Tripp Ministries marriage conference. The premise was that the biggest problem in your marriage is you (aka the biggest problem in my marriage is me). Paul Tripp explained that in marriage we are fighting between selfishness and God’s kingdom. So if we are always looking for what will get us what we want, and our spouse is always looking for what they want, there is going to be a conflict.

Truly, this is the battle in all of life, not just marriage: Is our desire more important than the good of the whole?
Here are some arenas I see this played out:

  • Americans (a bunch of individuals) put together the perfect Christmas for our families each year even though we have been told endlessly that we are spending enough money on Christmas to solve a world-wide need for clean drinking water.
  • Elderly: We spend money putting together the perfect house, with new cars, pristine decor, and 300+ sq ft of personal space each, but do not have room or time to care for the elderly who raised us. They are demoted to “dorm-style” living in low-rent apartments or nursing homes.
  • Disability care: I have been told numerous times that parents would not impose on their other children with the lifetime care of their sibling with a disability. They need to be an individual and live their dreams.
  • Caring for our planet: Regardless of how obvious it is that we can’t keep destroying the planet, and actually have room for this much trash, we keep consuming, consuming, consuming, consuming…
  • Sex trafficking: During the superbowl weekend, thousands of human slaves will be transported to the city of the superbowl for people to indulge their desires, without concern for the desire of the person they use to gain physical pleasure.

I think this mindset is killing our world!
I think marriages are sacrificed to the google-eyed dreams of another life that’s better for ME, forget the spouse or the kids.
I think families are sacrificed to the dreams of the workaholic dad who is pursuing his dream at the cost of all family commitments such as reading to his kids, teaching them about the world, or caring for his parents.
I think America is preserving our sterilized, sanitized life in denial that within a mile of our Southern border & extending around the globe, people are dying in need of our cup of coffee.

So there’s my perspective. I have my cross-hairs set on fighting Individualism in my family.
IT IS HARD. I am falling for it ALL the time, too!
But I can’t stop fighting – the Bible tells me to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and that right behind that is “Love your neighbor as yourself.
If I truly love Him, I must be fighting for you – even if that cost me something… or everything.

But how in the world does that connect to the family bed?
First, what’s a “family bed”? It is just sleeping as a family, in one space.
And it’s not such an unconventional idea. When I talk to my grandmother about growing up, she was always sharing 1 bed with her 3 sisters. When I asked my Russian friend Sam where he sleeps when visiting his mom in the 1-room apartment that she owns (1 room with a shared kitchen) in Moscow, he looked at me dumbly – obviously next to her in the bed.
My exposure to this concept was in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India in 1999. I lived for 3 months there, and spent many nights with different segments of my Indian family.
Here’s how the typical household worked – mom, dad, and the kids slept in one room; the grandparents and any kids who might want slept in another room – and it wasn’t because of space. The family we rented enough space upstairs from for 10 Americans to live in only used 4 rooms downstairs.
An alternate at my best friend Timu’s house was a row of beds & a row of roll-out mats – the dad, brother, grandpa slept in the row of beds side by side making 1 large bed; the aunt, mom, daughter, and me slept on the floor of the room.

What the family bed aligned with in my India family was a culture that considered the group above the individual.
This cultural value reflected my Christian faith better than the value of my own culture.
I was a rebellious teenager who never once considered how my choices would effect my parents, or my brothers – and the entire culture of my Indian family led to this consideration.
You may have witnessed this value in many other cultures as people come to the USA to work, but send most of their income to support the group back home – the same group that supported them up to this point. It is not a 1-sided situation.
(I’m not saying the Indian culture is perfect, or that I am taking everything.)

Nuclear family is a mistake – a waste of resources, a form of isolation, and not best.
So in my home, the family bed and some other ways I communicate that the group is more important than the individual are one way I am trying to push back darkness for my kids. We all enjoy the good together, and we all suffer together. It is part of being a community – our well-being is completely tied together.
And I do expect Holden to look after Arabella and Darin if they need him. Just as I look after my grandmother, and will my parents. It is not a bad thing; it is the design of the world.
Pursuing their own pleasure is the loneliest, never-ending search we could send our children on.

Imagine how many government services could be reallocated if families worked together to care for the children (save daycare money), the elder (save elderly care money), and disabled (save Medicaid waiver & abuse/neglect money). Little people hung out with their grandmas, aunties, and cousins in the the shared family home.
Then the Church could tackle the widows & orphans needs, and we might have a start.

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