by Nicholeen Peck
Ironically, in an age when business communications and social networking are easier than ever due to technological advances and global platforms, families are struggling more than ever to feel connected as groups. When the problems facing families seem endless and intricate there is one principle that we must keep in mind. “Our direction matters more than our speed. Don’t panic…If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (Tamara Runia, October 2023 General Conference and traditional proverb)
The idea of creating a family vision or family plan for the future relationships of the family scares some people. They resist for various reasons, such as fear of not achieving their goal by falling short of perfection, not trusting that the hearts of other family members will really care about deliberately pointing family bonds in a certain direction, thinking that it seems too controlling to make a plan for family outcomes when people could change their minds later, it doesn’t feel concrete, It takes too much energy and time to keep everyone going in the same direction, etc.
Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Additionally, the Cheshire cat from Alice In Wonderland said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” No one would start a business not knowing what they ultimately wanted to accomplish with their business. Most people wouldn’t begin a long journey without knowing which direction they are heading and why. People gain confidence and purpose as individuals and groups when they have a clear direction to focus on.
Life moves fast. Families are bogged down with to-do lists and endless activities. Many people are addicted to going fast through life to get all the things on the lists done. However, even though fast is efficient for checking things off the list, fast is rarely effective at accomplishing our deeper goals. Unity is required to accomplish deeper, more purposeful connections within family; and unity takes time.
I’m one of those people that can, if I choose to, get more than seems humanly possible accomplished in a day. But, on those days, when I’m running here and there at a break-neck pace, my connections to others and relationships can suffer.
Years ago our family created our 20-year-vision for what kind of family relationships we wanted to have. We picked a family celebration 20 years down the road and imagined what we would feel like toward each other and how we would interact if our relationships were good and healthy 20 years from that time. That family vision changed my whole focus. Suddenly, my days and life in general wasn’t about getting all the things done, it was about the people; no matter how much time it took.
Give Yourself Permission
I chose to give myself permission to do less in exchange for doing better with my relationships. I chose to love the moments serving and loving the people instead of seeing those moments as times that interrupt my day. My days weren’t actually mine at all I realized. My days were no good if they didn’t benefit anyone else besides me. So, I gave myself to the idea of bonding in all things. Going through life as a group, as cumbersome as it might be.
Sure, I still had my impressive moments when it seemed like I accomplished a lot, but I usually didn’t steal those moments from why family anymore. In fact, because we had taken time to unify with a family vision and plan for a successful family culture the family was usually helping me get all the daily things done, which made everything go quicker. Life really is better when you go with the people instead of just with yourself.
Sometimes life isn’t perfect. Sometimes the people who we desire to go far with don’t really want to go with us, but instead desire to go alone. That can hurt or be difficult to navigate. Luckily we are never alone, even if the people around us don’t desire unity with us. Love of others and hope for better relationships can live on in us. We get to choose how we feel about others and to forgive them for not being on our same page in all things.
Just because someone doesn’t want to go together, doesn’t mean that the idea of having a family vision or vision for better relationships is useless.
Keeping Vision Clear
If there is one thing I have learned from my religious upbringing, it’s that there is a plan for all of us, no matter what happens. God knows us, loves us, and has important things for each of us to do. His plan is always there for us, even if we think things aren’t going perfectly enough. We have limited vision. God has eternal vision. He knows where we are going to end up if we keep our visions clear despite the difficulties we may face.
Keeping vision clear means:
- Make a vision for what you want to be like in all your relationships.
- Take time regularly to remember your vision.
- Focus your efforts on changing yourself to become the person you see yourself as in your vision. Don’t control others.
- If others have united with you in family vision then practice the vision feeling whenever you are together.
- Practice regularly. Having a weekly family activity can strengthen family bonds and promote vision.
- Don’t let your emotions cause you to lose sight of your vision. Emotions are temporary, but can damage your journey toward vision if not kept in check.
My grandparents had a large family with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even though occasional hard feelings happened in the group, they were able to keep the family united because they stayed focused on going forward toward their vision even if someone didn’t want to come to a family activity or was struggling in a relationship. They kept inviting the group to gather. Now, after my grandparents have been gone for many years, it warms my heart to see the family relationships continue. It is true, vision truly does keep the people together in the end.
Where we are going as a group is always going to be more important that what problem we are dealing with in the moment.
This book teaches how to make a great family vision and how to communicate so that you can live according to your vision.