This past week was spring break for those of us who live in the Sunshine State, so two of our families took it upon themselves to visit two of the distant families.
They headed first to Washington D.C., where our daughter Melody lives with her family. The cousins hadn’t seen these two young relatives in almost two years. We’ve FaceTimed and talked, but being in person makes all the difference.
The brief moment of hesitancy because of unfamiliarity morphed into a sheer delight for the remainder of the time together. The connection was quick and complete.
The families headed north to Pennsylvania and our son Mark’s family and three more boys. Brief discomfort transformed into absolute enjoyment as they played together, running and rough-housing because of the plethora of boys. Sweet Isley held her own.
This wasn’t an extended trip. They spent twenty-four hours with each family. The effort made in showing up was worth the energy it took to get there.
The delight came in seeing how the kids connected with one another. Without a lot of drama or wasted effort.
Experiencing connections with one another, valuing others with their uniquenesses and differences, gives us the capacity to grow as individuals and become more balanced in our life perspectives.
Growing up with a German Mom meant our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners always consisted of turkey accompanied by sauerkraut and dumplings. Christmas cookies included kolachke, a German confection we all loved.
It wasn’t until I dated my husband and went to his home for Thanksgiving that I was confronted with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and apple pie.
We become so comfortable with what we experience every day that it can feel disruptive to be introduced to new and different. I can still remember John’s face the first time he confronted a bowl of sauerkraut. It will never be a favorite.
He did try it.
This is our present conundrum. Everyone feels free to comment on everything. Cancel culture has gotten out of control by criticizing anything that’s ever been said that isn’t in agreement with what they believe.
How many of us have actually engaged in the experience of stepping into what we’re not familiar with, what feels awkward or uncomfortable? I’m not talking about choosing wrong actions just to make sure we know why we’re choosing the right things. This is about expanding our hearts to welcome the new and different.
Jesus was ridiculed for spending time with those people the religious leaders called sinners–tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick, and the hurting. People these men felt were beneath them.
Jesus was intentional in how He chose to spend His time. Loving the unloveable. Accepting the unacceptable. Making time for the marginalized. He came to bring life to all, not just to the elite few.
Experiencing connections with one another that might not come easily opens our hearts to love and be loved more thoroughly.
Take a lesson from the cousins. Give it a try and a little time.
New and different relationships will surprise you.