Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lent Day 29: Thankful for relatives

Jesus had parents, siblings, aunts - and lots of friends and acquaintances. We don't know exactly how big Nazareth was, but it's a fair guess that most people in town knew each other. They would have known family histories, silly games of childhood, and all the strengths and weaknesses of their neighbors.

With many people choosing not to endure the hard work of marriage or fleeing dangerous situations, we have a self-spawning culture of combinations and re-combinations called blended families.

I just heard that two of our acquaintances are splitting up as a couple. Nah, we don't know the whole story, but from what we've observed, a big part of it is a lack of maturity, forgiveness, and grace. They've had a rocky road off and on and one of them is fed up. Calling it quits. Unwilling to work any more at what has been a steep climb. Supposedly, they still "love each other." Whatever.

I look into another life window, where a friend's spouse is at death's door, the victim of cancer. They won't have the lifelong connections in common as one leaves the other behind. They had no choice and when they are parted, it will take time for the grieving partner to find a new normal.

One of the gifts of a long marriage, no matter how much work or stressful some years have been, is the mutual memory bank. W and I love each other more now than in the beginning (and than we did in parts of the middle!) We have many friends in common; he tells me about colleagues at work or church. I update him on FB friends and people who grew up with us in the church's youth group. You don't get those kind of memories or proven marriage benefits by running away to "find yourself" elsewhere.

I'm grateful for my folks. They've stayed married for nearly 60 years, through thick and thin: poverty and wealth; challenges with their parents and children; exciting adventures and boring chores. We've been married 34 years. Our kids have begun their marriages with a strong commitment to their spouses, too.

It's not easy to stay married without the social and religious pressure to keep a covenant in good and bad times. Among my first cousins, 6 of 24 have experienced divorce or abandonment. W and I also might not have made it through some very tough seasons without both of us honoring our covenant before God and buckling down to family expectations.

Today I'm thankful for all the aunts and uncles, the cousins, nieces and nephews, and other family members who have stuck it out. The extended web of friendships and trust remind us of God's faithfulness and the importance of self-discipline and perseverance. Life is not always easy, but it is worth doing with all our hearts and strength.

Loving others is second only to loving God, according to Jesus. And you do that by changing yourself (since you can't change others.)

The fact that my husband turned out to be my Prince Charming is an unexpected bonus.

Read more:
*Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! For he commanded, and they were created. Psalm 148:3,5

*Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

*You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11

Moravian Prayer: We offer thanks to you, Creator God, for all good gifts - the seasons of the year and of the spirit, and the experiences of joy, pleasure and gladness. We offer thanks also for the sorrow and grief and solitudes of life and for the strength through which we are able to meet them. We pray for those who work hard to preserve relationships and we commit ourselves to work with them this day. Amen. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this ... and I love the comic you chose :)