Tag Archives: faith

Never Let Go

Madeleine L'Engle reads with granddaughters Lena, left and Charlotte (now Charlotte Jones Voiklis). L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” became a favorite of young people, Voiklis says today, because “kids read it and understand that they are not being talked down to.” Illustrates KIDSPOST-WRINKLE (category l), by Moira E. McLaughlin (c) 2012, The Washington Post. Moved Wednesday, March 14, 2012. (MUST CREDIT: From Crosswicks)

“No long-term marriage is made easily, and there have been times when I’ve been so angry or so hurt that I thought my love would never recover. And then, in the midst of near despair, something has happened beneath the surface. A bright little flashing fish of hope has flicked silver fins and the water is bright and suddenly I am returned to a state of love again — till next time. I’ve learned that there will always be a next time, and that I will submerge in darkness and misery, but that I won’t stay submerged. And each time something has been learned under the waters; something has been gained; and a new kind of love has grown. The best I can ask for is that this love, which has been built on countless failures, will continue to grow. I can say no more than that this is mystery, and gift, and that somehow or other, through grace, our failures can be redeemed and blessed.”

Madeleine L’Engle

In this day and age – family is sometimes all you’ve got. So many around us don’t even have that. Fragments are all that’s left. L’Engle describes her marriage as a construction project that travels like a roller coaster up and down through life. I get the sense that she felt it was something worth hanging on to – a relationship like no other that couldn’t be found elsewhere. A relationship that mattered, for the sake of her children, for the sake of her spouse and always – through the long haul – for her own sake.

  • We sometimes get exasperated with one another too quickly. Family has to learn how to stick it out to the bitter end. Take a long road trip together or get snowed in during Christmas.  Make sure there’s only one bathroom.
  • When you’re feeling sorry for yourself is the best time to start doing something for others. Families are where our children learn to live by seeing examples. Show them how to give instead of take.
  • Call your adult children and ask them how you can pray for them this week. Be sure you pray and then follow up, keep following up. Tell your children how they can pray for you.
  • Treat each moment together as if it were you last. That helps you to put things into better perspective. It helps you to stay in the moment and not lose sight of what is really important – right now.
  • The most important activity that members of a relationship and families learn how to do is to “get over themselves.”

The building of relationships is an ongoing project of success and failure. All that matters is that we never give up. Marriage and family takes work – a task that each generation has to put it’s shoulder to with a committed heart. No half measures will work. It’s encouraging to read the words of famous figures who affirm what a difficult journey it often is. It’s typically very discouraging to see every single week another famous couple calling it quits and then rationalizing their failure as a sensible decision. Your children have been raised watching this “play” over and over again. It will compete with the story you tell with your own lives together.

Building a civilization is accomplished in each daily decision to . It’s never perfect, it’s but a love built on failure, it is a mystery that can endure.

“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…”Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Never Let Me Go

An older couple sitting on a grass bank

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Gordon Lightfoot

I’m sitting here looking around and I notice people that are always present, but I suddenly notice something for the first time. Something I’ve seen over and over again, but just now, I realize its significance. Something has been taking place day after day and the light is just now coming on in my brain and I see it for what it really is. It’s so essential, it holds everything together. It matters most.

“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” – Goethe

There’s that couple struggling together with a crippling disease. They work as a team getting up and preparing to walk to their next stop. All that the rest of us do automatically, these two must carefully manage over and over. They live their lives intertwined, making life work because they have each other. This is one thing they know they will always have.

Over there is another couple. Now that time has passed, I don’t think she always knows where or who she is. But he is faithfully at her side, her duty bound escort, Prince Charming and devoted spouse through better and worse. Who would have planned this sort of experience for those golden years? But as I watch week after week I know that these two surely aren’t living their life according to plan, they are living their lives as they are. He is not a master of his fate, never was, but he is certainly a master of his heart.

Sometimes there’s a commotion. Children of all ages are scurrying about trying to find their place. I can sometimes see a few faces filled with giant smiles that stand out. Dark hair and darker complexions blending in with siblings that are fair and towheaded. It’s clear that these children were chosen, rescued from unfortunate circumstances and embraced into a loving family. These young lives aren’t supposed to fully understand what’s happened. Their job is to live, learn and love. It’s a marvelous reminder of an eternal truth.

We believe in God who has adopted us in the same way.

All around me, each and every day,  I see the reality that none of us can make it without others who love us. We need to have people who are committed to us in deep ways (like marriage, blood, and adoption) intertwined in our lives. At times we think about these people, we just don’t think about them enough. We always take one another for granted. We get blown over without realizing who it is that’s always there to hold us up. We let another day pass just assuming that those people in our lives will still be there tomorrow, as if tomorrow itself were so certain.

…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…  (From the Book of Common Prayer)

Children Ought to Have Parents

parent-showing-love

When did you outgrow your parents?

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

– Joni Mitchell

I saw a television news program the other evening about families who have children that decide to adopt a different religious faith. This seemed strange to me. I know this to be a very rare experience. I wonder why the news thought it was something that we needed to hear about? Because it was abnormal? Television has become our version of the circus freak show, right?

Children don’t decide on their own about things like religious belief. Young adults sometimes do when they leave the family and strike out on their own. Children make decisions about religious belief in the context of their social environment, with family, teachers, ministers and friends.

A recent Pew study found that 44% of adults have switched their religious faith from the one they grew up in – but they made this decision once they became adults. The largest group were Protestants (the largest segment of the population).

  • Most of these reported that they made their switch to a different Protestant denomination, like from Baptist to Methodist.
  • They did so for two main reasons, because they had moved to a different community or had married someone of a different denomination.
  • We continue to live in a rapidly mobile society AND Protestantism continues to reinvent itself with all sorts of new “brands” emerging each year.
  • Switching from one distinctive religious group, like Judaism to Mormonism remains rare.

What struck me about the story on the news was this trend we keep experiencing in America of treating children as if they were completely self-aware adults who are ready to make all sorts of decisions for themselves like religious belief, sexual preference, gender roles, or even dress codes.

Children are supposed to be in a special kind of relationship called childhood. They need to relate in healthy ways with adults called parents who are chiefly responsible for socializing them, preparing them for successful entry into the world of adulthood. Parents aren’t supposed to surrender this role and suffer the angst of trying to be the BFF of each one of their children. Parents aren’t supposed to be disconnected (too connected to their work!) from the day to day lives of their children in such a way that they can’t engage in healthy, practical and successful socialization. It’s difficult, but someone has to do it!

I keep seeing cues from the media urging parents to let their children become self-regulating autonomous decision makers. This isn’t healthy for anyone. What do we need from parents?

  • Parents are the adults, and act like it
  • Parents model good decision making
  • Parents provide structure, rules and consequences – a safe and consistent environment in which to learn and grow
  • Parents help their children take appropriate steps that move forward

This article from a young adult blogger recently appeared in Relevant Magazine. She writes about five lessons she learned about life while being a part of her church youth group. As she reflects on the experience she’s discovered that these lessons have turned out to be true. It’s a great post and I thought about how she got involved in her youth group in the first place. Her parents took her to church, drove her to meetings, modeled their own religious lives and invested themselves in her spiritual growth.

Children, teenagers even young adults starting their lives need parents. They need parents to teach them how to survive in this world. They need parents to help them find their way to God. Remember, less than 20% of American households are two parents and children. A little more than a third of our children live in single parent or in cohabiting family arrangements. So many of our children are being raised in a variety of living situations.  Ones that are probably less secure, less certain. The job of parenting is as essential today as it ever has been.

 “Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.”   – Victor Devlin