Wellness: Moving Beyond the Family

Two months ago, I wrote about wellness: how poorly it’s defined, how many areas of our life it encompasses – financial, medical, relational, vocational, spiritual – and how its success depends on the proper prioritization of these different areas (go to June 5 blog)

One of the attributes of Montgomery County residents I appreciate most is their dedication not only to their own wellness but that of their families.  While there are many businesses in this county, it is still a bedroom community to a larger metropolis; residency is still its biggest commodity.  And the percentage of this county’s budget that is dedicated to education – a whopping 47% proposed for 2024 – testifies to its commitment to the proper equipping of children and youth for their futures.  You don’t move to MoCo for the scenery, or access to vacation spots, or because of cheap housing.  You move here because you want to invest in your family.  Hence the multitude of educational opportunities, sports clubs, municipal parks, and family-friendly offerings.  Specific housing developments are chosen because of the schools they are zoned for or the sense of community found within their boundaries.  The question is not: does this county work for me? But rather: does it work for my loved ones?

Raising a family is hard work.  It takes lots of time, emotional investment, and, of course, money.  And so, after taking care of ourselves, meeting the needs of our family can easily take all the rest of our energy.  Shouldn’t it?

Well, no.  It could, but it doesn’t have to.  Residents of this county should feel very blessed that many Montgomery County residents, past and present, have chosen to look beyond the needs of their families.  Would that everyone could just take care of their household and that would be enough.  But of course, it isn’t.  Thriving societies depend upon the hundreds or thousands of moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that at the end of the day have decided that just looking after their own kin is not enough.  Goodness, welfare, justice, progress, equity: these things don’t just happen – they have to be produced.  And there is no substitute – yet! – for the sweat of the human brow.

Sometimes, our family concerns do take over: a child with special needs, elderly parents that need constant care, mental illness the management of which becomes a full-time job.  But the majority of homes, if intentional, can carve out 1 – 3 hours/week for some common good.

In the next several weeks of summer left, I will be featuring ordinary folks in our community who have decided to do just that.  They have each taken steps to look beyond their households to the greater good.  You’ll meet Wayman who is overseeing a garden at his children’s elementary school, Alfonso who packs fresh produce grown in this county to take to low-income families, Lando who delivers groceries to shut-ins, and more.  Each one has found a way to give back – and you can too!

In the 2000 epic revolutionary war film The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, Gibson’s character, the widower and father of seven Captain Benjamin Martin, is asked to join the Continental Army.  He refuses, responding: “I’m a parent.  I don’t have time to be a patriot.”  Later, the war comes to him and he loses a son to it, forcing him to pick up his arms and fight despite all the needs of his family, thus driving home the point: we ignore the problems of our world at our own, and ultimately at our family’s, expense.

This fall, how will you create wellness for your community?

Oh, and we need tutors for 2nd graders in October!  Just saying.  Details to follow.

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