Many of our Xenia families need support. I think we would all agree the family unit is important, but what constitutes a strong family unit? Families may look different in each case, but most successful families provide consistent housing, financial stability, clear family roles, and emotional well-being for its members. In addition, strong families encourage one another towards success and also provide guidance and direction in all of life’s struggles.
Occasionally, grandparents, friends, and family can help provide additional support, but more often than not parents find themselves on their own in trying to provide the emotional and physical support their families need to not only survive but thrive. This can be especially hard in single parent homes or where both parents are working. A solid network of support is critical for a strong family, but sometimes parents need help.
There may be a gap that needs covered either in physical or emotional assistance or both. Parents do their best to cover everything, but life circumstances happen. Job loss, unplanned pregnancy, health, loss of a loved one, and many other crises can affect the strength of the family unit. So what is our job as community members and especially as body of Christ, the church? Do we have a role to play in supporting families?
Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus says first we should love God with every fiber of our being. We shouldn’t just go to church on Sundays or identify ourselves as a good moral Christian. When we love God with our entire mind, soul, and spirit then we surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ and become his followers; loving others with sacrificial love, not just love that is convenient and timely. As C.S. Lewis says in an excerpt from his address, “The Weight of Glory”, “And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the winner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.”
Lewis identifies this type of sacrificial love again in his book, The Four Loves, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”
There are many non-profits and ministries in Xenia and Greene County that help bridge this gap that families sometimes feel in their physical or emotional well-being as a unit. The Miami Valley Women’s Center in particular can help provide diapers, clothes, baby food, outer wear and many other items to individuals or families. We have no income or residence requirement. We also can help provide emotional well-being by providing incentive-based parenting classes that help cover the issues that busy families of today face.
We also believe that God cares for families and therefore provide spiritual support wherever possible in our client relationships. As a pregnancy resource center, we provide free, confidential services for pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting education, and resource help. We seek to provide guidance and assistance to those facing a pregnancy decision, but also seek to support families in any way that we can. You can support the families in Xenia by supporting the Miami Valley Women’s Center or the many other wonderful non-profits and ministries in Greene County that also seek to help bridge this gap.
Amy Harris is the Center Director for the Xenia branch of the Miami Valley Women’s Center and guest columnist.