Family and the First Responder

By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

Family is everything. It’s the glue that holds the fabric of our society together. It’s why we work as hard as we do, push ourselves to the extremes that we do; family is why we insist on higher education, struggle to better our circumstances, make incredible sacrifices through the years for; it’s what we live for, fight for and, sometimes, die for. Everything begins and ends with family.

However, there are times when folks need to be encouraged to maintain a balance. I refer to this as being recalibrated. We can get so caught up in providing for our family and trying to make a better life for them that we actually lose sight of what’s really important – them.
So, in the spirit of family preservation I would like to offer the following thoughts to help encourage you or to help recalibrate your thinking, if you’ve lost your way.

First, it’s about priorities. What’s important to you? You don’t have to measure success according to how your neighbors are living. Some folks have the mistaken idea that children actually care about the size house they live in or type of car the family drives. Sure, after we adults influence their innocent minds they start thinking about these things, but the truth is as long as your children can be with mommy and daddy they don’t care if you live in a tent! So, remember, you’re not extending yourself beyond your means on their account. It’s you they want, not the square footage of the house.

Second, someone once told me that the work would wait while you showed the child the rainbow, but the rainbow wouldn’t wait while you did the work. There will always be bills to pay, mouths to feed, degrees to earn, certifications to achieve and mountains to climb, but your kids don’t stay young for long. We get to hold their small, innocent hands for just a few short years. That’s it. You can never turn the clock back. Hold them tight today for tomorrow they move away.

Next, the accumulation of “stuff” is an empty trap. Possessions don’t satisfy and fulfill us, meaningful relationships do. That’s just the way we’re designed. Here’s a simple rule to remember: the more stuff you get the more stuff you want. Where does it end? And then we build bigger homes to hold all of our stuff. How did we ever survive back in the days when there was only one T.V. set per household? Do you remember a single wall phone in the kitchen or hallway? And how did we live without the Internet? There was a day – not very long ago – when kids spent their time outside, running, playing, interacting with other kids, and the only stuff they had might have been a ball and bat. We’ve created a world of people who are dependant on their devices, gadgets and…stuff. That’s a very shallow world.

Finally, as a pastor and chaplain, I have the sobering responsibility to help people transition from this life to the next. Nobody - absolutely no person, has ever regretted spending too much time with his or her family. God Bless your family!