I went to a funeral a few weeks ago. A close friend of mine from high school and college lost her father after a sudden stroke. My mom and I drove together and visited with several of my school friends and their mothers, catching up and consoling each other for our friends’ loss.
The funeral itself was very touching, but what stood out to me the most was how poignantly lonely the previous generation seemed.
I saw a newly-widowed woman, with her only-child-daughter (my friend, who is married with two children) living over 1,500 miles away.
I saw another widow – who’s only-child-daughter (another friend, engaged to be married) lives over 800 miles away.
I saw an aging couple, who’s only-child-daughter (my single friend) lives over 400 miles away.
I saw another couple, who’s two daughters (both married with one child each) live hundreds of miles away.
Sure, they get together for holidays and a few special events, but beyond that they seemed to be strangers.
I slowly started to realize that I was clearly the outcast in the group, married with four children and living within three miles of both my parents and my in-laws. Two of my three siblings also live within the same town.
I quickly was overwhelmed by feelings of my own family’s drama. You know, the classics: strong personalities vs weak ones, short-tempered fathers, opinionated mothers, and babble-on-forever mother-in-laws, trying to figure how to squeeze in your sister’s baby shower between your 2nd-grader’s First Communion and the school charity dance, and oh yeah – gotta make sure someone can babysit! WHEW! Yes, I have to admit – my crazy life often makes my head spin!
The more I think about this funeral experience, though, the more I realize how BLESSED we really are. It was a really good opportunity for both my mom and I to see what the alternatives are like. While life can certainly feel a bit overwhelming at times it is hardly boring or lonely. It was a much-needed dose of perspective to see how petty our little family “issues” can be. It’s important to count our blessings and be thankful for the fullness of life all around us! I am thankful for my family: I have two sisters who I can text and call at any moment to share a funny story or to make plans for lunch. I have parents who I call every morning, just to say hi and ask how their day is. We go to their house almost every week for dinner, and they get the chance to see the grand kids. I have a mother-in-law who also eats a meal with us every week. She is always willing to watch the kids so my husband and I can get out on a date night – every single week! I have a husband who makes me cry with laughter, and children who are filled with with nonstop chatter but are dripping with joy and LIFE! Yes, there are personalities that can certainly drive me up the wall once in a while, but when I stop and look at the big picture I see such enormous love bursting at the seams!
During Lent it’s important to really evaluate where we are in life: Where are the *little* things getting in the way of your family relationships? In what ways can we all give and take in order to bring a little more love into our lives? This is not to suggest that there aren’t very valid reasons for cutting off extremely toxic relationships, but these should be evaluated on a regular basis and examined to find opportunities for forgiveness and growth. Examine, re-evaluate the situation, and make an annual review of the situation. Allow for others to change and grow as Christ is merciful with our own shortcomings.
As difficult as many personalities can certainly be, loneliness seems worse.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”