Recently we were singing the hymn "Go Forth with Faith" in church. When we sang, "Go forth with faith to tell the world the joy of families," I felt a little troubled. It wasn't a week where I was feeling the joy too much. The laundry had piled up when the belt in our washing machine broke. It was my turn to drive the kindergarten carpool (and listen to the endless rounds of, "He's not buckled." "Stop that!" and "He's kicking my chair!") The solar oven I had been excited about was failing dismally (and so were my dinner plans.) And I was feeling like a mother with three children under the age of five and a husband who is working full time while earning his MBA.
A couple days passed. My children were peacefully painting our driveway with sidewalk chalk, and I was musing about the relationship between work and joy. Yes, a young family provides a sometimes insurmountable amount of work.
But it also provides joy and satisfaction. I don't think you can have true joy without work. The joy of holding a newborn baby comes after nine months of (often) miserable pregnancy and at least a few hours of hard labor. The joy of watching a child make good choices comes after years of teaching, training, loving, and setting a very conscious example.
Do families bring joy?
Yes, yes, and yes.
They are a lot of hard work. But joy doesn't come any other way.