Family, I am convinced, was designed by God so that we could have our emotional needs met. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, parents were to make up a natural, large community of people who could, together, be a testimony of what it looked like to be a community where God's presence dwelt. Family was designed to provide help, comfort, wisdom, sharing of traditions, history, purpose, morality, and celebration through relationships throughout the seasons of life.
That is why the breakdown of the family is such a strategic move on Satan's part. If he can rob us of support systems, accountability, encouragement, and tangible love of God, which was to be expressed through the loving relationships with the many people we belonged to in our families, then he can break down the foundations upon which we are supposed to be building righteousness and godly purpose. People tend to drift and wander when they don't have connection and responsibility of relationships to a family. Then loneliness sets in as we long for what we were made to have --fellowship and intimacy. We become an easy target for Satan when we isolate ourselves and are alone.
Because I am a lover of people and I have really ached, at times, for closer relationships, I feel it is an area the Lord has taught me much about. It is a very important Biblical priority. When Jesus told us the most important commandments, to love God and to love people, He was elevating that which is really important in life--relationship. Relationship to God is His most important priority and should be ours--to love Him, then to love others.
For this reason, the Lord has taught Clay and me, over the years, that we have to make relationships a priority, if we are going to stay tender to the Lord and have the strength to keep going. In light of this, we continue to seek to build groups of people into our lives, so that we may continue to have relationship.
Consider some of these ideas for building relationship, yourself!
Tea and talk times--let your friends know that once a week, or once a month, you will open your home for friendship and fellowship. You light the candles, everyone else brings a snack to share. Then, pick one or two verses or biblical principles to talk about and just have a time of fellowship for a couple of hours--letting everyone know that they can look forward to more times like these. Share prayer requests at the end, praying together or having everyone break up into twos or threes and pray for each other.
Family potluck-- We started a family potluck group, where we take turns meeting at each others' houses just to eat and have fun together, and then close with sharing and prayer. It has given my children a close inner circle of people who they know care for them. We've even made lots of plans for the year ahead--4th of July together, grilling and shooting off fireworks; in the fall, we will hire a caller who teaches the old English dances to groups and we will have a pot luck and invite many families and do these fun dances as families. We have planned to join our church's adopt-a-neighborhood ministry and work together in that. At Christmas time we will once again have a progressive dinner, where we go to each others' homes in turn, visiting one for each portion of the meal, and sing carols and read the Christmas story together.
Girl's group for your daughters once a month--gather friends, moms and daughters, and plan something to do once a month; you could even go through a book together.
Start a Mom Heart Group--Really, do! Use one of my books as a base, meet regularly to discuss maybe one chapter a week or even once a month, enjoy prayer and fellowship, and develop friendships with those who are like minded. I have had a once a month group at my home for years, though it's gotten more difficult and we had to move to the church when the police showed up to inform us we were breaking rules with all the cars in the cul-de-sac! We always share treats, fellowship, have a time in the Word and then just hang around and talk.
Host an "I appreciate you" tea-- for your closest friends or special people you appreciate.
Schedule regular park days-- invite friends to pack a lunch and meet somewhere local for an easy fellowship time.
Do ministry alongside other families--volunteer at a retirement center or a homeless shelter. Our closest friends are those who travel with us and work side by side at our conferences--all the parents and children work hard and play hard, together.
When you create venues for fellowship, you are providing relationships for yourself and for your children--and you are providing close friendships, and support systems that Satan cannot easily tear apart.