I grew up in an era where life was very different than it is today. Though I was surrounded by loving grandparents during my formative years. My parents stumbled. In truth, I am not sure either were ever capable of the responsibility love brings, though first – one must learn who they really are and to love themselves. We also have to be open to letting ourselves grow and evolve as this is how God has designed us.
There were many formalities, routines and traditions that were done for the sake of being done because it “always has been this way”. Many I have passed on to my own sons, but they are in regards to common courtesy, good manners and being kind. Holding doors open for a woman (has nothing to do with physical strength and everything to do with being a gentleman), offering your seat to a female or elderly, please and thank you. Dressing in a modest and respectful way.
There is a problem with having too many strict formalities, routines and traditions just for the sake of it has always been. Didn’t Jesus teach us this? The problem with that is it may be the reality for a select few, but not how it has always been done in other homes, states, countries, religions. These formalities, routines and traditions left little to no room for growth, learning and experiencing something new. Truly humbling oneself to another.
I look at my life this past week. I have learned in life that I can make or break a holiday for myself – and those around me. My sons grew up in a very tense, stressful home. Walking on eggshells so as to not set their father off. I was the same, tip toeing through life. Following what I was told, and for too long believing what I was told too.
I spent holidays alone as a child in the hospital. Warm loving holidays with my dads parents, I cannot say I had one nice holiday when I was married. We always had to do and be what he or his family wanted. I also had to give gifts we could not afford, to people I did not know because they were (ex-husbands extended ) “family” who we would see once a year, if that often. In that life those things were not a choice but a given. More than once, I was left home alone while he took the kids to his parents, more than once when I was ready to go, but to change into a holiday outfit. Yeah. Thankful that is my past.
This past week I chose to have a peaceful holiday filled with love, family and acceptance of what is today, is my today. Formalities, routines and traditions can and must evolve to fit in with the times. With a greater understanding of humanity – life, and love it must evolve – we must evolve.
As I type this I think of a letter I have read, my then twenty-one year old father penned to my grandparents. In this letter he told them he was happy for their upcoming visit, and that he had recently married my mother and they were expecting. In truth, my mother was still married to her first husband (at age 15) and wore the diamond engagement ring and wedding band from her first husband. My father had gone off to begin life on his own as a young man, ended up in places most unexpected to him. It would be many, many years before my grandparents learned the truth of my mothers background. Secrets, lies. I have kept these thoughts in my heart and use them for good when going through experiences with my own sons. Honesty is so important.
Knowing God, means we should know and understand that we are all human. We have been given guidelines in which to live, Christians know Jesus taught us the greatest commandment is to love the lord God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our self. That cannot be repeated enough. These are the two commandments we are to live by.
Perhaps the our-self is what mucks things up so much.
Sitting with my eldest son Thursday afternoon, after the little’s went on to visit her family, our conversation came around to people not matching his expectations. My oldest two sons have been very judgemental of “little moma” and upset that their youngest brother is in this place. I don’t believe we are given our gift of life to spend it pushing people down because we don’t understand where they are coming from – judging them harshly. I know enough of the story of her life to completely understand where she is at – and where she hopes to be.
I recently bought some maternity clothes for moma little. The kids don’t have the money and her pants were too tight even rolled down at the waist. She couldn’t understand buying maternity clothes because she needs “regular” clothes. I explained this to my eldest. He looked flabbergasted and said “ohhh so I get this now, we never (his friends and him?) should have commented on pregnant women with their clothes not fitting, it’s a financial thing”.
I have always made sure my sons had good clothes to wear, even when he went away to college in the big city. He didn’t realize I stopped swimming because I am saving for hernia surgery, he assumed I gave up on myself. We make assumptions of people based on face value and this is wrong. I really like that visual of the iceberg, the tiny bit we see above water – and that mass of ice below. There is depth to each and everyone of us that is not to be seen on face value, but through time and knowledge of each other.
My son looked at me and said you are so authentically yourself. You know yourself. Yes, I do. It has taken me years to know myself, love myself – and be open to learning and growing. I think in part a conversation we had early this week was revealing of this to him. I shared something and he thought (for some reason) that he was wiser and knew more about my feelings than I did. When I told him exactly what my feelings were – he was floored. He was absolutely fine with what I had to say but didn’t realize I had the self awareness.
As we go about our lives, work experience, social lives, family functions it is important we gift ourselves with the realization that each person, and each situation as depth to it that we may not understand. One day we may, or it maybe that chapter is not in our own book but pages to flip through and allow it’s own space in theirs.
Personal relationships, who has kids, when where. Decision not to have kids. Single, married, divorced. White, Black or Asian. Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist. These parts of us make us who we are. Our God gifts us with life, intelligence and so many options in life. He allows the fallen to rise, His arms are open and accepting of all who sincerely seek Him. We become what we seek. I seek my loving Father, I seek Love, I must love to become love and receive love.
Do you take the time to have these conversations with friends & family? Your adult children (who may have been way too long)?
Final thought ~
Life is not about finding oneself, rather it is to discover who God wants us to be.
PS ~ Tradition: While rushing to finish setting our Thanksgiving table, I could not find my Nana’s dish that I had washed and used every holiday. Rather than allow that initial stress to turn into a frantic search, I opened the cupboard, pulled out the bottom of a plastic set and used that for the cranberry sauce. My love for my Nana is in my heart, she would smile if she knew I had washed her dish to use, and rather than getting upset and letting that tension roll over to the kids, I used a simply plastic reusable container (re-purposed). Things are things… don’t allow them to mean more than the people in our lives ♥