For most of us, our culture or heritage is a source of pride. This is true for me. Although I’ve lived in the U.S. for half my life, I still identify strongly with my Ecuadorian roots. After all, Ecuador was the place I was raised and Spanish is my first language. I’ve come to embrace my ethnic identity and celebrate the diversity of those I know. The world would be a pretty boring place if we all looked the same, spoke the same language, and ate the same food.My life as an American started after I married Leon and moved to California. Quite suddenly, I had to assimilate into a new culture and make new friendships. I realized in those first years that marriage is a lot like the process of assimilation. When you marry another person, you become a member of their family and they with yours. You get to try new foods and participate in different activities, but there is another type of blending that happens when you marry and start a new family. Two people create an atmosphere when they live together and that changes again when they have children. I think of this idea as family culture. Because of my Ecuadorian heritage, Leon and I were intentional about creating a certain culture in our home. Leon fell in love with me, my family, and my culture. He loved the warmth, love, and affection that my family showered on him. I also fell in love with Leon’s personality, his ideas, his respect for others, his loving heart, and his family. Leon and I shared faith and the desire to get involved with church, grow with other couples, and raise our children in a certain manner. From the beginning, Leon and I wanted to create a warm atmosphere in the home with much hugging. I wanted to bring the best of my husband’s culture and the best of mine to our marriage. For instance, in Ecuador, everybody greets you with a hug and a kiss. Leon and I were very intentional and taught our children to embrace people with a hug if they were open to it. Our children also learned Spanish, which we spoke in our home. Another trait that Leon and I wanted to have as a part of our family is what I call God’s culture. In Matthew 22:35-40, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” These verses highlight several areas that I think are at the heart of God’s culture.
- Loving God and each other. Make the teachings of Jesus the center and foundation of your home. Love means thinking about the interest of each person in your family, their growth, and fulfillment as individuals. If you truly love, you will put yourself second over the needs of spouse and family.
- Forgiveness is not an option. There will be conflicts and misunderstandings in the home, which means each member needs to practice repentance before God and learn how to forgive others.
- Prayer should be a centerpiece of your family time. It’s been said, A family that prays together stays together. That has been the golden rule in my family. We have taught our kids that God can work on our behalf when we pray.
- Fellowship every chance you get. Gathering with friends at church or over a meal, having a family movie night, or going on vacations are all a part of a healthy family. Work at togetherness.
- Humbleness means recognizing that we are nothing without God. Give God credit for personal accomplishments, while encouraging family members in their gifts.
- Trust in God and each other. Practice open communication and acceptance. Realize that we are in the process of becoming more like Jesus and that we are a team, united in His love and purpose.