Let’s pretend that I am a photographer rather than a writer. Instead of describing bustling activity and bursting color, I will show you.
It’s the beauty.
Images that burst into color in my mind’s eye. Phrases that stop me cold.
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2
I feel myself already warming in the healing rays of that sun, playing like a frolicking calf.
My husband’s parents were married in 1964. Over fifty two years, they built a family—three sons and eventually five grandchildren. And they built a life—a home on six acres, leadership in 4H and the literacy council, church involvement, neighborhood friendships, holiday traditions, ways of doing things.
One chapter of their book closed with my mother-in-law’s death on April 26th. Neighbors, friends, and relatives came to honor that long chapter at her funeral.
As they did so, I watched a new chapter open. My widowed father-in-law silently invited his sons and daughters-in-law to become leaders in the family. The change was palpable. We were now among the grown-ups; expectations were set accordingly.
As spring has erupted in color and light, we have watched my mother-in-law reach the winter of her earthly life. She suffered several strokes in March, and her decline has been steep and steady. Death is drawing very close now.
Rick has gone back and forth to Wisconsin, first to comfort his mother and recently to assist his father. On Easter Sunday, we all left our brimming-with-life church service to travel the six hours to say good-bye. We arrived on a gorgeous spring evening, the Wisconsin fields golden in the warm light. During the few days we were there, our children pressed in, bravely sitting with and talking to their much changed Geegee. Through tears, I did my best to model courage in the midst of tender good-byes.
Lagging behind is not what the experts recommend for bloggers and opinion writers. You’re supposed to respond to events within 24 hours, offering incisive analysis on call.
I have deliberately chosen not to do this. It takes me longer than 24 hours to understand an event—what happened and why. And then I need to mull it over—reading wise commentators, feeling my feelings, praying, and discussing it with people whose perspective I trust. This is how I discern both truth and wisdom. Neither one comes quickly.
It may not be obvious from this blog, but I am actually an impulsive person. I have strong and immediate reactions that I enjoy acting on. I am comfortable letting my gut lead me.
I have chosen, however, to never hit “publish” impulsively. When I put my thoughts online, I want them to be well-considered. I need to be confident I have thought an issue through from multiple angles, that I have treated the players graciously, that I can stand behind both my opinion and my tone.
And when I have failed in either regard, I welcome feedback from readers. Such failures are far less frequent if I take time to listen, think, and write slowly, however. I save myself a lot of trouble when I am “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
We all know the dangers of a quick tongue. How much greater the dangers of a quick keyboard?
©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2017.
She tells me what to do.
I cringe and then go against her advice. While I appreciate her counsel, I think I know better what to do.
Forgiving me, she adjusts. Then she offers another piece of advice.
Again, I disregard it. I feel bad, but she just doesn’t understand the situation as well as I do. Is it me or is it her? Am I too picky, too pig-headed? Or is she giving bad counsel?
Without a word, she lets it go. Then she bravely offers more guidance.
I doubt its wisdom. So, I ignore her once again, wondering when she’s going to cut me off. Can she truly forgive me 70 X 7 times? When will I have gone too far? Will we pass a point when the relationship cannot be salvaged?
Undaunted, she suggests another course. Surely I will see the sense of her instruction this time.
I just don’t think she’s right, so I go my own way. Before she can reject me, though, I decide to reject her.
Siri, this just isn’t working out. I’m going to turn you off.
In a few short months, my oldest daughter will graduate from elementary school and become a middle schooler. (Hold me.) In addition to all the perennial challenges of the junior high years—hormones, mean girls, a larger school, kids who party—we must figure out how to navigate social media and smart phones.
For the first time in my parenting, I cannot look to my parents’ model or that of my wise friends with older kids. Even five years ago, smart phones were far less ubiquitous than they are today. My cabinet cannot help me here because when their daughters were in middle school, flip phones were socially acceptable. Snapchat hadn’t been invented. Today, 50% of kids have smart phones in 6th grade and 90% have them by 8th grade.