I was extremely blessed. I spent the first three decades of my life either living in the same small town as one side of my extended family or at least close enough that we drove to be with everyone for numerous holidays every year. I was also blessed by the composition of my extended family.
Our family was one who weathered tragedy and good times with laughter, turning to God, and pulling together. Of course, there were exceptions, for no family is one homogeneous cohesive unit. But this was our norm.
My husband hadn’t grown up like this, and when he met my extended family for the first time, he thought they were the first real Christians he’d ever met. This then became the type of family we both hoped to build, a Herculean task since neither of us had nuclear family units that functioned this way. At least, we figured, we could remain close in proximity and aim for the best.
But then the economy collapsed. This coincided with a long series of family tragedies covering nearly a decade. These downturns, coupled with over a decade of a frozen salary for my husband, prompted six relocations during a seven-year period as we struggled to keep food on the table for our burgeoning family. As a result, young adult children were scattered all across the U.S. as they graduated from high school, went off to college, and then on from there.
So much for our plan. I’ve wrestled and argued with God about this for a long time. What we desire for our family is a very good thing. So why is it like trying to lift an enormous boulder? Why won’t the sovereign Lord of the universe allow it?
We really aren’t “movers.” We lived seventeen years in our first town after marriage and never would have left had not everything changed economically. We’ve now lived sixteen years where we are currently located. The seven years of constant relocation in between were an anomaly.
I may never know the whys. I’m relatively at peace with that. But I still wring my hands over it. I know this to be true: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). I recognize that I’m not omniscient, neither all-knowing, all-wise, nor all-seeing. Therefore, I yield to God’s purpose, though I still feel the tug in my heart that wishes it were the other way.
We are scattered from south to east to north to west. The last time every one of our children and grandchildren were together with us was nearly seven years ago. For some reason unknown to us, this is His will, what is best for us, or He wouldn’t be allowing it. He orchestrates everything in our lives for our good, for He has called us to be His own and we love Him.
Over the Memorial Day weekend four of our six kids traveled with us to visit my parents. It was glorious! We were multi-generational for a long weekend, which hadn’t occurred since a family funeral three years ago.
What did we learn? What did we cherish?
The smiles on the faces of the older generation as we converged upon them from four different locations far and wide is a memory I’ll cherish for a long time.
Time is short. Our lives fly by and soon will be gone.
The interaction of our children and grandchild with my parents was a great blessing to behold. Both sides seemed to enjoy it immensely. My parents smiled widely, as their littlest great-granddaughter rushed around their cabin enthusiastically proclaiming, “I LOVE this place!”
There are lessons each generation can teach the other:
The younger generation know many things we do not about technology, new societal norms, evolving cultural standards, financial trends, and the combination of gadgets and travel. They have the strength of youth and good ideas about how things can be accomplished.
Likewise, the experiences of the older generation are unique. As we face superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and international upheaval, we can learn from those who have lived in an era with scant antibiotics, the wars of the 1900s, many recessions, and times of anarchy. These things are now cycling around once more.
Simply sitting in front of a fireplace to talk as it rains outside on a holiday weekend can be the best way to transfer these lessons.
No one in either generation is perfect. Everyone is flawed and quirky with eccentricities and sinful habits of behavior. Forgiving and bearing with one another is the best policy. All of us were blessed with a harmonious weekend.
My heart was full and grateful! This short time was cherished, as it is so very rare. Family is something to value, a true gift from the Lord.
Would we take it for granted if we all lived near one another? I like to think we wouldn’t.