The Shaping Power of Family Habits
Our family is becoming more and more aware of the fact that our traditions shape us. Our rituals and habits, those things we do every day, are more than just outworkings of our ideas and beliefs, they are activities that inform and shape our souls. Aristotle said. “You are what you continually do. Excellence, therefore, is a habit.”
While I don’t know that Excellence is our primary driver in life. It’s in the mix, but it’s not the main course. What we want is to anticipate the kingdom of God, seeking it first, in our family life.
James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies series has been very important, along with other sources, for my own growing awareness of the shaping power of our habits.
As this awareness has grown, I’ve been examining what we do every day, every Holiday, every Sunday, and so on. It’s been eye-opening.
The rituals we perform, our habits and traditions, do more than just reveal who we are. They do that, sure. But they do more. In our rituals we reveal our values, and we reinforce them. And they, in so many ways, are used by the Spirit of God to make us who we are.
So, as a family, we’re trying to be intentional as we go forward.
How? Well, in ways small and big. I’ll share one significant avenue here and then I’d love to hear what traditions are shaping your family life.
Gina and I grew up in traditions that were suspicious of the Christian Year, the Church Calendar. So when I heard the word “Advent,” I smelled popery, to which I was profoundly allergic. (I’m literally allergic to potpourri.) But as this (largely) groundless fear evaporated, we found a way of life that so inspired and shaped our family, that we cannot even imagine abandoning the practice of Advent.
We started off clumsily and progressed slowly, but it has come to be the sweetest time of the year for our family, one where we know that our rituals will align our hearts and shape our souls toward Kingdom anticipation.
The kingdom of God is our family’s heart, the end and aim of all our art. Advent practice is a graceful avenue for us to be who we are.
Our whole family loves to gather around the candles each night as our ritual grows in light, week by week, and we experience with our bodies what our minds know. We see with our light-loving eyes, feel with our kneeling knees, hear with our tuned ears, and love with our primed affections, the thrill of hope we sing about.
We make our way clumsily thought he rest of the Church Year, growing in love and lessening in fear. And we are attuned to the shaping power of our traditions in a new way. We’re on the journey, and it’s been a genuine blessing to us.
What about you?
If we want to be shaped by Christ and anticipate his kingdom, how would that change our habits, rituals, and traditions?
What are some things you do in your family every day that shape your family in kingdom anticipation?