It’s that time of year as we get ready for the gauntlet of holidays. College students are scurrying trying to get last minute things done for classes before heading home. One of the biggest problems we hear about after the holidays is tension with family members, particularly the parents.
Spend time with them. Too often, students throw down their bags of laundry and take off to hang out with their friends. Maybe, stay at home the first night or two? Get caught up. Tell them about school. Many parents are making quite an investment with tuition and room and board. Let them hear how their sacrifice is paying off. Play board/card games. Watch a movie. Spend quality time with them and show appreciation for their years in raising you.
Take initiative. Maybe, do your own laundry? Try being a grown up! When guests or relatives come over, don’t make the obligatory cameo appearance the rush off to your XBox. Hang around. Help your parents be hosts. Pick up used plates and cups. And do I dare say…help get ready for the gathering. Help prepare food. Definitely help clean up. Offer to run errands, go to the grocery, watch after younger siblings, walk the dog, mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow…you get the idea.
Car. At one point, you’re going to go hang out with friends and you’ll need your parents’ car. Don’t just ask for the key. When you’re done, freak them out and fill it up with gas. Clean the car, vacuum it out, detail it.
I say these things because students go away to college and have amazing experiences with God, do incredible things for Him. But too often we let our guard down and get sloppy. Our conversations, our words, our actions, our lack of attention to details…they speak volumes and at times are a terrible testimony. We can preach like Billy Graham, pray like a Franciscan monk, and serve like Mother Teresa. But can we take out the garbage? #ugh
I understand that many students go home to hellish situations. We really need the grace and wisdom of God in dealing with these homes. Ask God to give you the right words and attitude, letting Him shine through you. I remember years ago, some parents drove all the way down to Urbana from the Chicago suburbs to meet with me. They were quite hostile on the phone and wanted to know what kind of cult we are. I asked them why they were so concerned. “Well, Brad has totally changed. He cut his hair. He doesn’t run around with the same freaky friends from high school. We found him kneeling at his bed praying and reading his Bible. He threw away his cigarettes. And he doesn’t listen to heavy metal anymore! What have you done to him?????” I asked them, “You’re complaining? Do you want your old son back? He’s made a decision to follow Christ. That has changed his life. All of the things you just said, we never told him to do. It was his decision.” Instead of the typical new, on fire, pushy way of evangelizing, Brad took it slow, worked on relationship, and let his parents see Christ in his life. The change was obvious and they eventually began to follow Christ as well.
TWO ADDITIONAL ITEMS:
Homework: Don’t be too ambitious. Everyone thinks they’ll get a lot done with a whole week off. WRONG! Save yourself lugging tons of books around and take 1 maybe 2 assignments home. That will also alleviate stress and guilt later on.
Relationship with God. Good habits at school are one thing but going home is another. “I’m on vacation.” That only works with school and work. We must continue to pursue God desperately, even more when facing certain family situations.
Than being said, have a great time at home. Smile. The semester’s almost over.