Ladders and Foundations: THE ICE IS THAWING IN MY LIFE...
Where we are coming from and where we are going and what we are "climbing"or parading can affect our lives in more ways than often is visible without a magnifying look.
How would you define success?
Success has been said to be defined by how many rich moments experienced in life. This might be a common belief in this country and especially to this generation.
After all, doesn't everyone wants to pursue happiness?
Isn't it true that if you ask someone what they want, often the answer is, “I just want to be happy!” Or many say whatever makes you happy, that is what matters most.
Happiness is part of our country’s “unalienable rights" and there is nothing wrong with this pursuit. We are encouraged and taught to pursue happiness. Let’s face it, ”Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence.
What constitutes richness and happiness is where the definition might vary and perhaps even can become INCONSISTENT in our cultures changing experiences and belief systems.
Would you agree:
What makes one person happy can make another miserable.
What a rich moment is for one may be considered offensive to another.
How I got on this topic: Today my husband and I had a nice lunch with my brother and his son with his son’s young family: his wife and toddler son and infant daughter. Our nephew said his definition of success is a life with many or the most “rich moments” in it. He gave the example of his high school classmate who spent 13 years traveling the world. “This guy now has a company related to his travels that is financially doing great. This guy had so many rich moments. Nobody can take his unique experiences from him…seeing the world, being with all kinds of people…. He made it!” “He is a success!”
As his son laughed and played contentedly with his grandpa and the markers and coloring book and his young daughter was held, snuggled, fed and rested asleep well satisfied by her parents nurturing, we talked about the gift of children. We agreed how this is a wonderful treasure also and the greatness (and yet challenges) of a life with children is staggering and awesome.
Given those remarks and watching this young family, I got to thinking on what really is success and how it varies individual to individual but is important to consider as we navigate life.
WHY? Well, because what our definitions are, "our truths"and our visions of RICH and what our goals to be successful are, can impact our lives and families and generations maybe more than we know or realize?
The other important factor in my considering this definition: Hindsight being 20/20: Last weekend I attended two family reunions. One was my mothers line, the other reunion was my father’s lineage. In those hours I learned a lot, remembered much and reflected on life and heritage in a way I rarely do or have. I came away with a more succinct understanding of my personal definition of happiness and success.
Some ingredients that brought me to my conclusions:
My mom was the third daughter of three. Her older siblings helped raise her as her mother worked and her father was in the hospital in her early years. My mother was sanguine to the core, happy, smiling, the life of any party and well liked and accepted. As I interacted with cousins and my still living aunt, I realized how much these three sisters lived RICHNESS BY LOVING SACRIFICIALLY and how loving their husbands and families unconditionally, but not perfectly truly impacted the future generations in good, wholesome, lasting and treasured ways.
Any parent knows it is not always easy and at times is downright hard, even agonizing but true love and loyalty compels nurturing and sacrificial giving and service.
As I looked back on these three sister's lives and heritage, I believe they were fairly consistent in this and were kind and humble in how they lived their faith and love.
Cousins shared with teary eyes their remembrances of their mother. How her mothering love, caring, consistent nurturing and kindness, her always being there and her always showering them with acceptance, grace, goodness has touched them deeply and has made a welcomed model for them to do life from. I shared a few of the many ways their mother’s love and care impacted me and how I saw it impacted my mother and family. It was a precious conversation.
My one aunt was recently sick her for over 6 weeks of hospitalization and rehab. She said there was not one time that she opened her eyes that someone in the family was not there! Her family united and rallied around her with co-operation and practical helps that spoke volumes of their love for her. It seems a deep, obvious mutual love. The care, concern, love and prayers were poured out on her.
The Reunion seemed a blessing for us all and was maybe partially scheduled to show this last of the three sisters how much we love her while she is with us, this side.
The Reunion seemed a true success.
What I learned or was reminded of or saw for the first time in a new way:
My mom was seriously injured two different times in her formative years. My Aunt said those injuries were so traumatic that my mother did not speak until she was five. Yet in my mother’s overcomer attitude, she refused to live as a victim and had many rich moments.
Looking at each of these sisters helped me to see that the one common denominator of their lives that brought richness was their faith and their families. Their faith made their families be what they are and their faith is still impacting the generations for good.
I could tell multiple stories to illustrate more but will hold back because the goal of this writing is for us to consider what OUR OWN DEFINITION OF RICH MOMENTS, RICH LIVES and A LIFE OF SUCCESS really is and for me to share my conclusions to arrive at a personal definition.
At the Reunion it was easy to see the two distinct family lines (Maternal and Paternal Lines) and a clear contrast between the LOVING and FORGIVING THREE SISTERS verses (I hate to say it but many spoke of this) a really mean and cruel Grandfather, my father’s father.
I see the beauty of real love and its effects on family and futures contrasted with serious verbal and physical abuses and these type fall outs. The difference between memories we savor and remember with joy, rich moments of love and loyalty, consistency of nurturing and provision and protection, happy times shared with people in safe places verses the memories we so want to erase and pretend never happened.
The reunion spoke a truth loud and clear to me: Rich lives can still come from horrible and unhappy fall outs, abuses, messes. Some of the most loving, peaceable people in our family’s two lines came from sad, hurtful pasts and starts. It was obvious to me that lives lived choosing love, forgiveness, service, kindness, faith, joy brought the best life, a life of rich moments. Despite hard, rough starts and circumstances, consistent love and forgiveness grew happy hearts and lives for generations! This gives me such hope.
In my life God has become my RICHNESS, Some of the RICHEST MOMENTS of my life have been times I have encountered God in my times of greatest desperation and need. I would not trade those moments with God for anything. This is hopeful because RICHNESS TRUMPED DEFEAT and victimizations. The reasons the desperations were so great, critical, momentous came from deep pain and traumas. Traumas I do not usually talk about and want to bury that almost buried me. Yet in this epic struggle to make peace with my past, GOD became my home, my safe place, the love and grace and mercy I needed, my Messiah, my everything. Thus, I think success boils down to our belief system and how our belief system affects our behaviors and relationships, our choices, our lives, our families and our heritage.
Do we believe what God says? BIBLE: Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. Do we believe God's Ways are best?
I Believe. How Bout You?
Nevertheless, the sad part of this for me is that so often I long to share the RICHNESS I HAVE RECEIVED with others, especially family like my nephew but hesitate or don’t know really how to effectively do so for many reasons. The top two reasons: 1.) because my "richness" has often looked so unattractive. I struggled outwardly and for so long a period and the struggles were so obvious. They know me and some of my history. Often the parts that most needed grace they know. 2) our experience together as a family IN CHURCH is often not richness but instead boredom, monotony, religion and a form of Jesus that I believe is not truly JESUS.
To show the real JESUS is such a challenge and really takes the Holy Spirit and years of consistent obedience to live true to what one says they believe.
I long to LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS SO OTHERS WILL WANT HIM. I have discovered that the greatest life of richness is knowing JESUS. How to show the REAL JESUS and LIVE THE REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS is the challenge of my life. The Richness, the rich moments with Jesus is the main reason I believe I am alive. To know He knows me fully, loves me completely and has 100%forgiven and accepted me and is in process of restoring and redeeming me and my past is the truth I live by and the richness of this reality and future hope makes my life a Success. Only one life to live, what is IN CHRIST and FOR CHRIST matters!
Yet to be honest, hard moments are a part of the richness, a part of what brings passion and deepening love and gratitude. Hard moments when I have felt hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
No doubt "The Three Sisters" had those kind of hard moments/seasons too. BUT CHRIST HAS BEEN REVEALED to us, as a family, by the fact that over years and generations, they lived their faith and have a Godly Heritage!
They lived out their faith by unconditionally loving, forgiving, accepting us and others as Christ did them! In 1 Corinthians 15: 3: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures… this message was a huge part of these three sister’s lives. It was passed down. Whether children receive the message for themselves or not is still out for deliberations.
I wonder if all those at the reunion could agree on a few simple thoughts: Loving well and being loved well brings rich moments and rich lives. We can give the best of what we received and others are brought to understand the richness of what we have been given and then we freely can and want to give out what we freely received. The more grace and mercy we have received, the more grace and mercy we are likely to give and live. Thus, RICH moments come from being loved, forgiven, graced and accepted.
If we could agree on these statements, it may be a staggering agreement. Because, I think that is a definition of success the Gospel way. Gospel Hope and a life of richness often comes in these kinds of defining moments.
To further elucidate my stance, my life, with my background now out there in a book, The Elephant Gospel, if family does not see my life through these statements, my life could be viewed as a total failure, a blight. I am a wasteland of past sins. Yet to others, my sins are not seen as sin at all but choice and acceptable lifestyles.
For me, the feelings of worthlessness and not mattering have been in core deep places in me for years. I have not committed sins of my youth for over 40 years yet the stigma and the sting and the inner turmoil that I have lived from those early years would have killed me or caused me to be permanently insane (I had moments I thought I was insane! I surely was inconsistent and not a good “christian” example.)
BUT GOD forgave and brought me in and has kept me in His care despite me. He is a Good, Good Father. He has loved me unconditionally, forgiven me completely and accepted me as family. I am adopted by the LORD OF CREATION! I am His Beloved and He is Mine. This is the RICH LIFE I want for others. But often I do not know how to share. This writing is my attempt to share what I believe RICH MOMENTS and RICH LIVES CONSTITUTE and WHAT TRUE SUCCESS IS TO ME.
THE POEM: ONE LIFE TO LIVE is my favorite poem and is an essence of truth I strive to live and share.
It’s not always simple truths lived in simple ways. It can seem profound and complicated.
As mentioned at the onset of this blog, our country is founded and well known for the Declaration of Independences's famous phrase: ”Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
Today in America, life is not always a choice parents make, and what constitutes “liberty and happiness” can be LGBT to some and yet a bondage and blight to others.
My story interfaces with culture’s changing definition of liberty, happiness and a choice of life being an option to what constitutes “life,” that is perhaps, most likely, different from what our founding fathers might have envisioned.
But giving the message that I have received brings about the rich hope and rich moments that increase my life richness and passions. I believe this richness will leave a glorious heritage bigger and better than myself. A heritage wrapped up IN JESUS and HIS OVERCOMING LOVE and FORGIVENESS is one of success in God’s Eyes though to many people it is a failure.
Wrapping it Up: The Family Reunion was one of love shared, to me. The entire family was very kind, loving and accepting of me.
Yes, this time I was accepted n shown love n kindnesses. I told about The Elephant Gospel book to a few of my cousins. I wonder if the next time I see them IF THEY READ this BOOK that gives my testimony, if I will be treated with the same kindness n love? Not knowing people well sometimes makes it easier to accept them. But God....
Gospel love is being fully known, fully forgiven, fully accepted, fully loved! It cost JESUS HIS LIFE and HE ROSE TO GIVE US THIS GIFT!
O LORD help us live Christ’s Gospel n inheritance to each other! Rev 12:11 us!
Praying for salvations especially in own family lines! Acts 16:31!
We all have choices. What remains is what matters. What matters is faith working itself out in love! The results are out of this world. The best is yet to come!