I had mentioned that I was being quiet as I listened for God's instructions recently, and that is true. However I was also being quiet as I processed some personal things in my life. Now that it isn't as fresh, I feel I can share what was and is on my heart.
On May 10th, my cousin died. He has battled some illnesses over the past few years and we knew that he was sick and that at some point he would die, yet it was still unexpected.
Due to the family dynamics, I wasn't close to him. His mom and dad, split up when him and his brother were young kids. When they would visit his dad, my uncle, we would get to see them while they were growing up. As children on the weekends they were often at our house. I recall those times fondly. However as time passed and they got older, they took a season of not seeing their father, and I could not blame them. Once they resumed visiting everyone was older, my stepfather was dead, and when they did visit their father it didn't affect the rest of the family. So in many ways my cousin and I were practically strangers. I really didn't know much about the adult that he became. So when hearing that he died at 32 years old, it hit me hard, and yet not hard at the same time. I know that makes little sense, but in terms of strong ties, we did not have them, it hit me more the sadness of a life lost so early, without getting to live.
As we did the memorial and afterwards though, my heart was heavy. I was stunned by the impact of this on my life. Not an overwhelming grief so much for his life cut short. But a grief because we as a younger generation in my family are missing it. We as the younger ones do not keep in touch, we have no real relationships, and are little more than strangers. So when the older members of the family leave, just where does that leave the family?
I mean we barely talk, even at family gatherings, we mostly only talk to our immediate families. We don't talk between gatherings, and if not for social media we would not talk at all. Kind of sad when you think about it, once our parents die, any semblance of larger family gatherings will be gone, and it will be just the individual family units.
Well there isn't much I can do to change family dynamics at this point. Yet it saddened me so much that at the memorial those of us sitting at that table could look around and say, "We never really knew Him." This stuck with me for awhile longer than most things do.
I just keep thinking how sad when your own flesh and blood can say, "I never knew you."
Then I look at how my sisters and I relate to my other cousins, and I realize I really don't know them either, and for years we lived on the same property, before they got their own places and then got married.
This got to bothering me so much that I wrote in my journal one night:
"How will I be remembered? Will people say that they never really knew me? I'm not even sure how well my family knows me. And what friends do I have to speak of? What is my legacy? How would I be remembered or celebrated? If I didn't see another day what could anyone say about my life?"
God intended us to live in real community, and I think we are missing it. There may not be much that I can do about my family. But it occurred to me once I get back to work, where I have money to meet with other people, that I need to get intentional about inviting someone to join me for a snack and conversation, or plan a night out with someone I want to get to know better.
My hearts cry lately has been to find that sense of community with people, outside the doors of the church. I mean its nice to feel accepted at church, and I feel joining the bible study group I have joined is helping. Yet I feel that I need to be intentional to do more, reaching out to know someone, in a deeper way. I posted on Facebook recently "These days more and more I see that we lack relationships. The genuine real life, spending time together, really knowing one another relationships. I have acquaintances, but no real friends, no one that truly knows me. It also seems that family connections are not as good as they used to be in a lot of families. We need to get back to having real communities."
There were many people who agreed with this statement and I am sure if I look that there are many who would love to get real about spending time with others.