Every Sunday, our family has a tradition. We meet at our aunt’s house for lunch. There are children everywhere. I have two sons. My aunt’s son has four and there are four more with his significant other. My other cousin has a daughter and my cousin’s niece has her daughter as well. My dearly departed grandmother had eight children and her heritage of a godly life has passed down to her children and the future generations. There are at least three generations of our family every Sunday. We look forward to meet each other over good food and even better conversation with far ranging topics.
Children are blessings from God and from the size of our family we are truly blessed. Every Sunday God provides the strength for my aunt and not to mention the food to create the secure environment where we can meet and eat. The women in our family are nurturers in every way. We ensure that the children have their food and eat it properly. We do not encourage wastage of food as we inculcate the values of thanksgiving and appreciation. The children are taught table manners, such as appropriate conversation and the correct usage of the utensils. The food is cut up in bite sized pieces for the very little ones. While at times there is good natured teasing and ribbing, the children have a sense of security from experiencing the extended family unit.
The adults protect the children from the influences of the “real world” as we ensure that they are guided by godly principles. We support our children to stand out in the world and speak out against practices which are deemed unsuitable. We want our children to make a difference in the world in whatever they do. We do not hinder or discourage their dreams. If they want to be leaders, the framework to achieve this is given to them. We are responsible for what our children become. They look to us for guidance and we try our human best to live according to the principles of righteousness and promote them to put their trust in God at all times. Even some of my cousins who have not been physically blessed with children have been spiritually blessed with our children. Their influence comes about through our traditional Sunday gathering. They nurture them according to their needs, just like our Heavenly Father nurtures us according to our needs. Our lives should create a longing in the next generation for righteousness and kindness.
The fifth commandment is to honour our mother and father, for by doing so we will have long life in the land which God has provided for us. We go through three stages of parenthood and childhood. First the children are brought up to obey their parents. Second as the children reach adulthood they respect their parents even more. Third when the parents reach old age, it is the responsibility of the children to care for them. I can honestly say that I obey, respect and care for my parents. I can only hope and pray that my children will do the same and the same will be true for our future generations. Have a blessed Sunday. I can’t wait to get together with my family.
(This is inspired from reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.)
Thank you for gracing my life with your presence. You show me my limitations. You make me aware so that I can change my philosophy of life. People change but God is the same for all ages. You break down my walls and reveal a beautiful layer of my personality. Thank God for that. You shake up my life and bring to my attention those things upon which I need to place less emphasis. You tear apart my ego that was edging God out and not exalting God only. You show me the addictions and the obstacles in my life. You break my heart so that God’s light can shine. Through the transformation of my life I am no longer desperate for God is in control.
Apart from you, my soulmate, is where I belong, for you were the embodiment of fear. We are not meant to live together. Before, I measured my self worth by your standards. I continually sought your approval. My heart soared when you said to me “Well done.” Not anymore. With my God by my side I am fearless. I am surrounded by like minded individuals who support me better than you ever could. I seek God’s approval so that at the end I can hear Him say, “Well done!” The art of saying no politely has permitted a balance of worship, work, play and rest in my life. Life’s lessons revolve around learning about teaching, healing, mercy and grace.My old self is left at mercy’s seat. My eyes and mind are firmly fixed ahead on God. I have you to thank for that.
My soulmate, thank you for loving me. Thank you for your tangible and intangible gifts which you gave me in this life. You have taught me that when you want something in life you will find a way and when you do not want something you will find all sorts of excuses. I am so grateful that grace in the embodiment of God has taken your place. Wherever He leads I will follow in the fantastic adventure in trusting Him. If life leads me to another soulmate so be it, but I will be mindful. I have found everlasting happiness with my God and my soulmate, I sincerely wish that you are as happy with your life as I am with mine.
It is an amazing feeling to be fearless. When you release and let go of negativity, your heart, mind and soul are truly free. What brings about this fearlessness? Humility and God based confidence are the qualities which lead to freedom. Humility is not about debasing a person. It is quite the contrary. Humility is the ability to lift others up with your actions and words. Humility is not thinking less of you. Humility comes when you think of yourself less. God based confidence stems from that unconditional love of God. He loves you regardless of your offences. He loves you because of your imperfections and short comings.
Fearlessness is a by-product of solitude and prayer. In the quietness of your mind, thoughts are filtered and sorted according to the Divine truth. Make time for solitude for it is a vacation for your soul. Solitude is a wonderful way to strengthen weakness as it affords the opportunity for reflection through prayer. Practical times for solitude are an hour a day, a half day a week, a day every two weeks or a week each quarter. Be aware of nature and the beauty of God’s creation displayed in the activities of plants, animals, birds and the wind. Listen to music which relaxes and epitomizes the greatness of God. Meditate on the Word of God and devote your time to seeking the understanding of the truth.
Knowing that God is always with you as your guide and protector emancipates you from fear. Separate yourself from the fear of people, situations and circumstances and embrace the other qualities of grace and mercy. Chase after these qualities as you learn all that you can about them. For it will result in a peaceful life, which is better than you could ever imagine. Remember that it is better to give than receive. So share as much as you can of your material possessions of your knowledge to others and do this with all sincerity and integrity. Hence:
Be still and know
“Keeping Up Appearances” is a title of a British comedy starring the late Patricia Routledge. Everything about the opening sequence is prim and proper. The music has an upstanding tempo and sound. Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) is dusting and she is selecting a book on Modern Etiquette. She is preparing invitations and her house for one of her candle-light suppers. Everything looks impressive with the exception of the green caterpillar in one of the flowers and all of the books fall down. Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) dramatically rolls her eyes. This opening sequence shows that no matter how much she works to “keep up appearances”, life has a way of unraveling all of that work in a split second. It is a snap back to reality.
Is recognition really that important? Must we go through life trying to impress others? Should we always make our presence known? What matters is the value assigned to things in life. If these things are important to you then your answer will be the affirmative. Some people like Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) have to impress others with their wealth and knowledge. She hides one set of family members who are living on welfare and praises her son at university who borrows money every chance he gets and her rich sister with her cross-dressing husband. Her husband endures her efforts with his patient personality. Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) must be recognized for certain social achievements and advancements. Everywhere she goes it is imperative that she be acknowledged. These things are worthy in her life.
Yet wealth can go in a day. At death, it is left to the mercy of your lawyers and descendants. Knowledge is useful when it is applied appropriately. Knowledge is fleeting. It can be taken away due to the relevance of a situation. Everything that makes sense at one time may be non-sense at another time. Climbing the social ladder may seem wonderful at first, but it is rather lonely at the top. In addition to the loneliness there is a sense of others trying to steal your position and the necessity to keep it at all costs. Here the old adage rings true as “pride goes before a fall.” The fall from the top is very far and not pretty at all. In another sitcom “Cheers” the opening song croons that you want to be “where everybody knows your name.” It feels good for a while. However that’s all they know: your name and they do not know the essence of who you really are.
Instead of using all the energy to keep up appearances, try to channel that same energy on working on who you really are on the inside. Instead of seeking recognition ask yourself if it is really worth it. Then focus your energies on the real meaning behind your worth and your work. How are you making life better for other people? Channel your energy into expressing your beliefs through your life, instead of rushing around to make everything look perfect. Just like the caterpillar in the flower or the books falling down on the shelf in the opening sequence of Keeping Up Appearances, life can shatter that perfect façade in a split second. Don’t be afraid to speak when you know and don’t be afraid to say that you don’t have a clue about a subject but be willing to learn. Humility is a wonderful value to emulate in life learning situations. Express your emotions, feelings and ideas through positive outlets and it will make a difference in not only your life but in others as well.
As you are making a difference from a humble perspective it is essential to listen to the truth. If you are in a situation where lies permeate escape it by silently slipping away to a retreat or excusing yourself from that place and space. Silence and a smile speak volumes. There is a quotation by Abraham Lincoln that notes: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” From that quotation, make your absence felt. It is better to be missed than to always want to be in the spotlight. Whenever Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) came to any social gathering or even went outside, people ran away from her. It appeared to be quite comical to see others running away from her but upon careful consideration, it is quite unfortunate to see that the same people she was trying to impress were trying their utmost to get away from her presence. When people miss someone they try even harder to go out of their way to see them. As another old adage notes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Appearances are temporal. They are not always as they seem. However your actions towards someone’s life can last for a long while. Act wisely and let them associate you with fond memories and not try to run away from you every time they see you or hear your name.