The past day I have watched as 33 miners were pulled from a half mile beneath the earth in a small rocket looking carrier to the surface. They spent over 2 month’s underground, with the first 17 days not knowing if anyone above ground knew they were still alive after a mine collapse. They spent more time trapped underground than anyone in history. What intrigued me most was hearing how they survived the ordeal so well. I thought of Catholic families today and all the obstacles we face and how the miners survival instincts might benefit us all. Let’s face it – many Catholic parents I talk to feel like they are trapped or in a battle to protect the holiness of their marriages and families. Here are 3 key principles that the miners applied within the first few days translated into helpful hints for Catholic families.
1. You Thrive When There is Structure
All 33 miners trapped were given a critical role in the process. One was assigned as the spiritual leader, one in charge of fitness and another in charge of communication. Basically from small tasks of keeping the space they were trapped in clean to making key decisions clear – from what’s been reported they all had individual and shared roles. No one was allowed to be an observer and be on a free ride. What if we applied this to our families. Does the father take the role of Spiritual head of the household? Do the children share in housework and responsibilities large and small? Do mom and dad hold the children accountable? Does the family exercise and share recreation time together? Does your family have assigned roles and responsibilities. You see the miners at a core level understood that if there is structure put in place and there is accountability – people will not only survive, but thrive. Does your family have a structure or are you just free-forming it?
2. Put Another’s Needs In Front of Your Own
The only way that the miners could live that long underground was to share resources. They offered up their personal items for the good of the entire group. Food was rationed as well as other supplies. The miners had an attitude that everyone survives – not just the youngest or strongest. And you know what it worked! For Catholic families many parents already know that they need to make sacrifices for the family. For example, the growing pressure on family time by the plethora of youth activities kids can participate in, puts family time at odds with activities. You see for many families the choices of how they spend their time are not between good and bad, but the choices are between good and God. I like to use as a rule of thumb with our family with 8 kids as we discern our children’s involvement in activities – What’s good for the family is good for the child. The miners knew that the only way to stay united was to share resources. For Catholic families the most precious resource we have is our time. Does your family make a priority to spend family time?
3. Rely on God
The first couple of miners after leaving the capsule on the surface, fell on their knees thanking God and acknowledging Mary for helping them. It wasn’t an afterthought – it was a first thought. You can tell that the difficult situation only strengthened their faith. How often does God lead our family through a difficult situation from complete darkness to light again and our thanks to Him is an afterthought? The miners kept perspective that it was God all along that saved them – they had relied on Him. Catholic families need to live in the reality that without the family being centered on Christ – they are lost. How God – centered is your family? Are you fully relying on God as a family?
The Chilean miners applied 3 gut level principles that helped them survive a difficult situation. No they are not perfect by any means, but what they did is an inspiration. We need to continue to pray for their adjustment to being back above ground and united with their families. And most of all we should be thanking God today for saving them and showing us all that no matter how hopeless our situation, He can rescue us.