For much of my life I’ve heard the phrase, “The only constant in life is change.” So true! And we are dealing with more changes…
This week we are moving my mother into a nursing home. She is still mostly independent, but we are seeing signs that indicate is it time for her to be in a place where she can get more care–and where her nutrition is better monitored…and where some memory issues that she is dealing with can also be watched more carefully.
It’s been quite a journey getting to this point. I think I was there before my brothers were–and we kids were before Mom was. Probably true in many similar situations.
It’s the closing of one chapter of life and the beginning of another…Mom’s closing out the place where she spent Dad’s last years with him; we’re really facing the fact that there are a limited number of years left with Mom; and we’re also facing the fact that we are getting close to being the “senior” members of the family.
Those aren’t easy changes for any of us. And yet…we can’t stay where we were, even if we wanted to.
The best we can do is come to grips with reality as it is, not as we would like it to be.
My faith tradition is struggling with how to deal with issues of sexuality, in particular homosexuality as it relates to marriage and ministerial authority. Because of that, we have been asked to spend intentional time with God, seeking to discern “what matters most.”
As you can imagine, there are a number of different issues that could take up our time! And they are all important issues.
Yet every time I think about that question–“What matters most?”–I keep coming back to the time when someone tried to trip up Jesus by asking him, “Which commandment is the greatest?”
Jesus’ response was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Quite often we stop at this point in the reading, but I think the most important sentence is the one that follows: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
In other words, everything that we spend time fighting over–all the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots”–can be boiled down to these two commands.
That doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to agree with each other. We probably won’t. That’s part of the joy–and the challenge!–of our diversity.
But can we learn to see each other as people of great worth? to allow each person their personal relationship with the Creator? to recognize that each one of us sees a part of the whole…and it’s as we learn to live with each other that we can put all the puzzle pieces together?
There are difficult questions that have no easy answers. But for me…what matters most is doing my best to live out in my own life these two commandments–and letting God work within that framework.
Last week our family attended a church family camp. The theme for one of the days had to do with identity and message…and one of the questions we were asked to think about was “Who am I?”
So…who am I?
- musician (organist, pianist, composer)
- sometime actress
- MS patient
In each of those categories, what message do I send?
I’ve realized that sometimes the message is one of impatience and frustration–and that’s not what I want. I would rather that the message associated with each of those identities be similar–a message of patience, caring, joy…
That impatience arises when I say “yes” to too many requests. It is hard to turn people down, and yet I know that at least some of my identities suffer if I am too tightly scheduled.
As I look back at my list of identities, I realize that I have left out the most important one. Who am I? A child of God!
The message I want to share is a testimony of what God has done in my life–and what God can do in others’ lives. It doesn’t matter which identity it flows out of–I want it to be the same message.