This weekend brought a lot of a lot of fond memories to the forefront. Memories of family. Thanksgivings gone past. A lot of new memories were discovered and made as well. The Christmas tree went up and there was hot chocolate and popcorn, family and friends.
Family always has its own set of challenges as well. Those challenges can range from disagreements and misunderstandings to the hard ones like sickness, death or disaster. But if you are to implement the goodness of God to the children coming up, you will have to learn to hang in there. To not check out when the going gets tough.
I know it is hard to be a parent or grand parent and watch unpleasant or difficult things occur. Equally so if you are one of the siblings. My own weekends with my children and grandchildren often give me time to love, live and help. Over time I have learned much and have uncovered nuggets of truth while discarding less “loving” or productive ones.
Life’s challenges leave me with three approaches. Pretend it doesn’t happen, implement unsound strategies or get in the mud.
Duck! A “head in the sand” approach to difficult situations does not usually work. Sometimes the very thing a child needs is to hear you speaking into their life. Walking them through things, helping them recognize love. (Conversely, approaching them with fire in your eyes and condemnatory statements is not the approach either.) I know it is simpler to hide some times but it usually does not bring resolution or answers of the long term type. Some of the things that turned out most difficult as a parent were not the ones I did not see but the ones I did and avoided.
Unsound strategies. I found them all. Yesterday I was talking with my grandchildren and I was telling them some of my most embarrassing moments as a parent. I feel a little “ill” even just thinking of them. And thankful for the intervention of the Lord. Unsound strategies can include a “laissez faire” style of parenting trusting children to make right decisions and choose their way. It can be reliving a parenting style of your parents and never choosing to change it. I made all the mistakes. One of my biggest mistakes was listening to others who did not have sound strategy and yet I thought they were ahead of me. And as a believer I am no longer into the “magical thinking” of life. I am not talking about faith and the walk of faith. I am speaking of the goofiness of some who think their unfounded, unsound “magical thinking” will get them through. 25 years of being in the kingdom and I can tell you I have seen too many broken friendships, shipwrecked children and disastrous marriages. “No more magic in the kingdom”. I believe in miracles, not goofiness.
Getting in the mud means you are going to have to do some uncomfortable things. You are going to have to look at your skill set, while looking at the other person with eyes of love. Not everything someone does is “wrong” but it may not gel with you and your life skills or experience. When you choose this path, you are going to find that under the mud…is probably more mud. You may uncover things you do not want to know. BUT, this method gets the person out of the mud and back into life. One of the biggest reasons for not choosing this method is it is uncomfortable. It often reveals more about you and your own shortcomings than it does the person being helped. Parenting, grandparenting or even being a good friend is not a place for the squeamish or the one unwilling to get their hands “dirty”.
Family and friends will always have the occasional “stuck in the mud” times. I have had them. And I am not suggesting jump in without thinking. (You saw number two-unsound thinking, right?) Heroics without thought process can lead to “death”.
Loving family or friends can be challenging but it can also bring you the greatest rewards.