My Family Manifesto

For many young women, life just sort of happens to them. They don’t give much thought about where they want to go and what they want their lives to look like. In their families, that means they just get by. They react to the people around them, but they don’t think about the big picture—about how they want to act toward the people they love.

I want more for you than that. I want you to live your life—including your family life—on purpose. With a plan. On a mission. That’s why I’ve put together the following “Family Manifesto.” A manifesto is like a mission statement. I hope it will inspire you to make the most of the weeks, months, or years you have with the people you call family.

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Can you imagine what a difference it would make if we practiced this manifesto every day?

Life won’t always go on the way it does right now, but when we live on purpose, we make the most of the time we do have with the people we love. And in the process, we squeeze all the sweetest juice out of life!

Hope Like an Anchor

Change is normal. A lot of change is good. But some changes in our family can shake us to the core.

Cancer.

Jail time.

Suicide.

Divorce.

Yeah, some change feels like a freight train colliding with our chests. Maybe you already know what I’m talking about. Or maybe those kinds of changes haven’t come into your life yet, and I’m glad. But I can’t talk about change and living life on purpose without taking a moment to talk about how we can respond when those hard changes take place. I want to share something that carried me through my mom’s sickness and can carry you through hard times too.

Death, separation, or watching loved ones suffer--isn't the worst thing. Life without God's hope is.… Click To Tweet

Death—or separation, or watching loved ones suffer—isn’t the worst thing.

Life without God’s hope is.

My mom knew exactly what would happen to her when she died. In fact, she had been looking forward to heaven—being face-to-face with Jesus—ever since she had become a Christ follower at thirty-one years old. When she was sick, one of her favorite verses was Job 19:25-26, written by a man who knew what it felt like to live in pain and sickness, on the brink of death. It says,

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!

As Christians, we know that this life isn’t all there is. We have the hope that even if our loved ones don’t know God when they die, He will work our suffering for His good, to make us more like Christ (see Romans 8:28). And we have God’s promise that He will comfort us in our deepest grief (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Hebrews 6:19 says,

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”

Hope anchors your soul.

Have you ever been sailing? I played around on a catamaran one summer, and though my nautical knowledge is pretty slim, I do understand the wind’s power against a sail. (Said wind may have tipped my tiny vessel plum over, dumping an embarrassed me right into the water—fully clothed.) A sailboat is at the mercy of the wind, waves, and currents of the ocean. If a powerful storm blows in, even a trained sailor can be helpless against it. God bless the person who invented anchors! An anchor does for a sailor what he can’t do for himself: hold steady. Stay put. Ride out the storm. Having an anchor is the only way a boat can hold still on the constantly moving and changing surface of the water.

An anchored soul—now, that would be pretty revolutionary, don’t you think?

The only reason I didn’t shipwreck when I lost my mom to cancer is because my heart was anchored to God. I held steady when the waves crashed over my head because I knew the hope of the gospel.

I don’t know what kind of life-altering changes you might face (or have faced) in your family. But I do know this: If hope anchors your soul, no storm will ultimately shipwreck you. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel as if your boat is breaking to bits from the force of the waves! But your faith has the ability to hold you steady when the storms hit. Notice I said when. Storms will hit, and some of them will hit hard. But God has promised to see you through (see Philippians 1:6), and He never goes back on His word. As long as you look to Him, your ship—your life—won’t sink, even when life as you know it changes forever.

If you’re facing (or have faced) a deep loss in your life, I recommend Elisabeth Elliot’s excellent book A Path through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain. My copy is thoroughly highlighted, scribbled in, and dog-eared.

You’ve been reading with Jessie Minassian. For more wisdom on how to navigate family life as a teen, read her book Family: How to Love Yours (and Help Them Life You Back). A great read for every young woman, it also includes fun quizzes, interviews to learn about your mom and dad, and application questions at the end of each chapter. Makes a great personal or group resource. Read the first chapter here.

Jessie Minassian loves Jesus, sunshine, and sand between her toes. She’s a speaker at churches and events across the country, an author of twelve books, including Backwards Beauty: How to Feel Ugly in Ten Simple StepsUnashamed: Overcoming the Sins No Girl Wants to Talk About, and Crushed: Why Guys Don’t Have to Make or Break You. She is the resident “big sis” at LifeLoveandGod.com, a popular website that helps teen girls find their identity, pleasure, and purpose in God. She lives in California with her husband and two daughters.

Learn more about the Live, Love, and God books by Jessie Minassian.

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