The best of epiphanies strike whilst eating falafels with good friends.
On this particular afternoon, the conversation with my friend cause me to think, again, about my parents and how I relate to them.
I love my parents. I am grateful that they gave me life. I enjoy spending time with them, laughing with them, and when we’re together we have a great time. I live a comfortable thousand miles away from my parents. I like their stories and enjoy hearing about their life. I am very selective about what parts of my life I let them see. I value their approval. I don’t seek their input when making big decisions. I look forward to every time I get to see them and after three to five days, I look forward to going back home.
I love my parents. Someday they’re going to die. Then I will not be able to speak to them(on sporadic phone calls), visit them(once or twice a year) or have advice to turn down. I think I will feel very sad. I think I may regret the thousand miles that presently serve as a buffer between their affection and my independence.
I’m still a thousand miles away, calling once a month, maybe, and not seeking their input on how to live life.
I love my parents. I love family. I love community. At least I say I love my parents, my family, my community. I say that I value these things. But I’m not doing anything particularly different because of them. I’m not reshaping my life to live a thousand miles closer to my parents, and while I could easily enough call them more than once a month, I still don’t think I’d solicit their input on how to live life. I’m too independent! I like my life and the things I do. Uprooting everything to reconnect with my primary lifegivers would be too damn inconvenient!
Shape my life around my distant parents? Who am I kidding. I have a hard enough time shaping my life around my wife and I like her a whole lot better than my family!
So do I really value my parents? Do I really value family? Do I really value community?
And here is the conflict which, once resolved, might lead to a more peace-filled life. It’s not about me and my parents. It’s about values and action.
If I value something, like family, I will demonstrate it. I will let family filter into my life and filter my decisions through my family I will talk about my family. I will make time and space for my family. I will spend money on my family. I will give up other things for my family. I will cling to my family even if I have to sacrifice other important things.
What do I really value?
What do we really think is important?
Starbucks and Facebook and a quarterly iphone upgrade?
I didn’t like this epiphany. I didn’t come out on top.
But like I would say to others in my care…we can change. We can learn. Grow. Do better. Be better.
May God grant us vision to see where we are lacking. May His wisdom affect our choices and values. May we find in Him the strength and dedication to live lives that are true and authentic in that we make our lives match our words. May our words be kind and compassionate and full of truth…
May God’s peace transform us…