Not-easy Story #1. On long leave to rest. The other, head spins. A sudden outburst. Stepping out of a moving vehicle. A good long talk. “I need you to pull your weight”; “this family is yours as much as it is mine”.
Not-easy Story #2. I’ve never met Dan. But I know him from his mother’s emails – how she loves him. She writes: “My son Dan still needs our prayers, I find it quite difficult watching his body deteriorate. He is full time in a wheel chair and can no longer drive. The right arm is of very little use and he struggles with the left. His spirits are good, Hs wife is good to him and he has a beautiful sixteen year old son who is quite unusual. He is on the high honor roll at school, plays drums in five school bands and also plays soccer.”
Not-easy Story #3. Tantrums due to post-surgery pain. Tension. Stress from work – possible outsourcing, relocation. Tension. An inane phonecall about the weather. Tension. Lack of restful and sufficient sleep. Tension. Different lives and rhythms, yet also the same.
Family life is a piece of cake.
Blueberry maple cream cake.
There’s a part of family life that is sweet – not saccharine sweet like some frostings are, but bitter-burnt-intense sweet the way authentic maple syrup (& cream) are. Shared times and seasons have triumph and laughter whisked into them, but often also great struggle and sorrow. Some days we argue and fight as if our lives depended on it. Other days, we are each other’s greatest encouragement, comfort, and support. We provoke and frustrate, love and care – intensely.
There’s a part of family life that is crumbly. Many crumbs come together to make a piece of cake; the crumbs fall apart easily and irreversibly when we fork the cake open. Perhaps that illustrates the sensitivity & wisdom with which we ought to nurture family life. It’s way too easy for the forks of busyness, distraction, complacency, callousness, deception, infidelity, unforgiveness and selfishness to take things apart.
There’s a part of family life that is nutty, like the slivered almonds. Sometimes we are tempted to think that there can be no other family as insane as ours – the stupid crazy things we do to ourselves, and to each other!
There’s a part of family life that is tart, like the blueberries. Biting, surprisingly sharp to the taste for their size. We inevitably sting each other with barbed words, hurtful actions, thoughtless anger, plain childishness, cold neglect. Small but regular doses of tartness.
But the blueberries, when subject to fire over a period of time, yield the smoothest, most exquisite jam you can imagine. And family life can be like that too – when a family stands, learns and grows together through the heat of difficult trials and terrible hardship, the result is often an amazing narrative replete with seeds of insight. O taste and see that the LORD is good – Ps 34:8
A piece of cake. With layers of complexity.