My daughter has been struggling with how connected, or unconnected, our family is these days. I have been trying to explain to her that as kids grow into their teen years it is normal for them to become their own independent people with their own interests and seeking out their own spaces. Interestingly, her thoughts have been resonating with me and I find that I am learning something from her. I find myself thinking of the commandment “love thy neighbor as you would love thyself.”
As we move through our lives it is true that we all develop our own interests and connections. This is a normal path of life. When does it become normal that we should build in separation from those in our inner circle? I understand that there is a capacity component. But to my daughter’s point, do we have an obligation to maintain a certain level of connectivity to family and loved ones? I reflect upon myself here. I live a couple of short hours from my cousin, yet I have not seen him in years. Nor have I spoken to him. This is one of my great regrets. How is it that in my busy life I am unable to maintain a connection with my own family just a short distance away?
We can grow this concept when we start looking at the model of social media. I am a light user of these tools. I by no stretch of the imagination claim to be a power user. Quite the opposite in that I abhor the idea of putting a lot of my personal information out on the internet for others to see. However, The model of growing connections and building a web of “friends” seems like a brilliant concept. The question I would ask is why are we waiting for the internet for this practice? Why do so few people build these networks in their face-to-face lives? I understand that the personal interactions can be more time consuming, intimidating, and threatening. They also can be much more meaningful, rewarding, and long lasting. It is a lot more difficult to ‘unfriend’ a person you have a personal connection with then it is to on the internet. You can’t do it with the click of a button. Ironically, it is also hard to ask a friend on the internet for a cup of sugar or to give them a plate of cookies when you are done backing.
So, where does this leave us? Yes, people do grow in separate directions. Yes, people do have different interests and need their own space. But I think my daughter has a valid point. Particularly with people such as family and those close to us, we need to invest in these relationships. We need to build those networks of friends in our personal lives. These will fill us with the sustaining things that we need when we are down or lonely. These will give us the people to celebrate with when we are experiencing a win. And they will give us someone to share a cookie with.
I believe that peace is something that is often miss understood. I hear many people throw around the word saying that they wish for world peace, or a wish for peace for all mankind. As I sit here on my porch this morning, enjoying a truly peaceful morning, residual rain dripping from the tree leaves and morning birds singing in the woods, I find myself full of conflict and struggle internally. This raises the questions, “what is peace?”.
I am forced to ask if perhaps peace for one person is different than for another. I know that for me, despite internal struggles, I am more than simply content on this beautiful quiet morning. With the water dripping through the trees from the rain last night, and the birds signing, the muggy, humid air from the passing storm sits like a warm blanket providing comfort as it wraps around you. There is a gentile breeze that helps to free the mind into deeper thought, and this is where I find myself. It is with this gentile breeze that I am finding my peace, right now. I understand that this is not some global cease fire that will stop all wars. I can understand the difference. But perhaps if we all were to take a moment to find what peace meant for our own individual lives, we would be better prepared to support peace in others.
I am a firm believer that if you do not care for yourself you will have nothing to give those around you. I think this principle may apply here as well. How can we ever help others find and achieve peace if we are unable to find it in our own lives. How can we help find a greater peace if we are still seeking peace in ourselves? How can we presume to know what peace means for another if we don’t know what it means internally? Beyond these questions, I also ask who are we as individuals to presume what peace means for another if we do not walk in their steps?
I am a very fortunate individual. I live in the woods in the Northeast corner of the United States. I am a person of privilege. I have more than my challenges, but I am filled with gifts. I work in a major urban city environment. I see every day the struggles and chaos, or so it appears to me, that others live in. I could not imagine what peace would be for those that live in that urban setting. However, I have spoken to a few individuals from the city and they are horrified at the idea of a quiet, dark night without the background cacophony and lights of the city’s hustle and bustle. This dichotomy illustrates how my perception of peace may be very disjointed from another’s
So, as I bring this to a close, I too wish for peace for all mankind. But with that I put a condition. I wish for every person to find their own peace, whatever that may be. For the things that we can control, may we work toward an inner peace. For the things that we cannot, may God bring us peace and serenity.
Summer is here in the Northeast. Not surprisingly, with all of the transitions from school to vacations for the kids, and the shifting responsibilities around the home, I have taken a short hiatus from this blog. However, it has never been far from my mind. In many ways, it has been a special way of my own opportunity realization as I have been capitalizing on the challenges I have been facing in this shifting landscape before me.
This site is more than just an opportunity for me to share a collection of random thoughts with those that choose to read my posts. It is an opportunity for me to help myself and others find new ways to face challenges and with the help of God convert them into new gifts and better approaches to leading our own lives.
The other day I was driving down the road was in one of those moods where I was ranting to the air around me about how the people in my life did not understand how difficult my life was as an amputee. I live in a three-story colonial and I hate how challenging my house is some day. My kids fail to pick up their toys. It can become easy to complain. ( I know their kids, right.) As I was starting this rant to my empty car, my cellphone popped up my daily prayer reminder and a bible verse for meditation. As I was driving, I did not stop to read it but the simple timing was enough for me to realize that God was with me and that I was surrounded by a wonderful family and incredible gifts. It helped me to realize that, while yes there are challenges for a disabled person in my house, there are also many blessings in my life that others with disabilities are lacking. This reminded me to always be open to the word of God.
I have had the opportunity to rent a racing wheelchair and start learning how these amazing contraptions work. I was out doing my workout in this devise the other day. I have to tell you they are much more difficult to use then they look. As I was struggling my way up a very small hill a song called “Keep Smiling” came on over my headphones. It made me laugh as I was just about to start crying. I was working so hard to keep myself from going backward. My arms were in absolute agony. A quick note about these chairs, They have no real breaks and will roll in any direction freely and quite happily. As I listened to this song I was reminded that while I was having to work really hard and I was struggling, I was out doing something fun, special, good for me, and unique. Not many people would ever have the opportunity that I was having at that moment. I had to keep smiling. God was again with me.
It is important that we find these subtle messages and words from our Lord to help us move through the challenges in our life. These will help us to see that they may not be challenges at all but rather fantastic opportunities. So I encourage you as you move through this beautiful summer, keep smiling and seek every opportunity to talk with our Heavenly Father.