As a mother, sometimes I have to remind myself of rather basic lessons with simple equations. Ends being greater than the means is one of those lessons I pondered anew today. The end in question was fellowship amongst siblings, which is something that is very important in our home. There are lots of ways to encourage camaraderie and build friendship in relationships. Shared stories (we do lots of reading aloud here for this exact purpose), board games & card games, working in tandem, hikes & bike rides, cooking or eating together, imaginative play with blocks or dolls or (let’s be honest) just about anything that fits in a kid’s hand… there are countless ways to have fun together and nurture friendship. I love watching my kids plan and play together, run and riot together, team up and try topping one another. Being the main observer of these friendships is often a gift! Sometimes it is also a trial, because we are all sinners, and squabbles inevitably break out. Toes get stepped on, tempers ignite, a truce can be hard won. But this too is a blessing to watch or assist. We are not naïve. Teaching our children to work through relationship bumps is a hugely important part of training them in the paideia of the Lord! And where else would I rather them get this practice?! So I seek to be thankful for the teaching opportunities when they arise. Lord, give me grace to have gratitude in the moment.
So that is the end. Fellowship and friendship and togetherness. Championing one another. And I listed some means… but that list is simply a small smattering of ideas. Traditions are another means: from larger traditions like birthday or holiday habits to weekly routines of watching a movie as a family on Sunday evening. Those things foster friendship amongst our kids, and create fond communal memories. Today I watched my kids snuggle and bounce and giggle and gasp together on the couch as they played Minecraft together on their tablets. This is a special treat they are normally allowed to do once or twice each weekend. And this is circling me back around to my original thought. As I watched them, it didn’t bother me that their noses were aimed at screens and their eyes were bathed in blue light. (And that’s saying something, because I am honestly not a video game lover myself.) I was overwhelmed with joy at the fellowship they were enjoying and the friendship they were pursuing.
This is how we seek to use technology and screens in our home: to build friendship and bolster fellowship. If we use technology and screens to erect walls and encourage isolation, we are using them negatively. This goes for parents as well as for kids. I am determined not to open the laptop or swipe mindlessly on my phone as a means of folding into myself or hiding away from my family. Lord, give us grace to be honest with our intentions and outworkings.
So this is my reminder to myself (and to you): the ends are greater than the means. The joy of my children and the cumulative actions they take in growing friendship and strengthening fellowship is much more important than whether they are playing a board game or a video game. Lord, give me the grace to have eyes which see this happening in my home. Thank You for giving me children! And for giving my children true friends in one another. Amen.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!”