I once asked my daughter if I talked too much and expounded on my opinions about this that and the other thing because I noticed that when I got on a rant! about anything! it seemed all the people in the room got very quiet and became still, as if any sudden move might make me pounce on them like a cat. She thought for a moment and said very carefully, “Well…you are pretty intense.” She’s right. But I have to blame my genetics.
See, I come from a long line of intense people, which is really just a nice way of saying “Steamrollers.” My father’s side is German. My mother’s side is Scotch/Irish. And we’re Lutherans. We’re all loud and opinionated and Mitch is just sure we’re arguing when we’re really just discussing things with severe passion, which is probably just another word for arguing, but it feels more Christian. Unfortunately we all came out of this family insisting that each one of us is right and everyone else on the planet is simply mistaken. My mother even used to say, “I was wrong once. But that was the time I thought I was wrong.” Long after when you give up and concede for the sake of peace, we find the need to expound into the wee hours of the morning beating the proverbial dead horse simply because we have more to say on the matter. This has proven very hard on the in-laws. But there’s also much laughter (and beer) and more beer. It’s a fun time. Mostly.
Recently we 5 siblings ran cross ways with each other over some issues with our aging parents. It took a nasty turn and we ended up with 4 lawyers trying to explain to 7 people how to resolve issues that had roots 80 years long. We all had loud and intense opinions about every detail, and of course each of us was correct and everybody else (including the lawyers) were blind, but after 5 months of frustrating emails, irate phone calls, expensive court appearances, and documents after documents, here, in some immortal words of our father, are some things I learned:
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Life is hard work. Preparing to die is hard work. Settling accounts with your family when you all carry such heavy, invisible loads of wounds, expectations and demands takes work. Get used to it: life is hard, and Jesus promised we’d have trouble. Why are we always surprised?
Where does it say life is fair?
Although a bit pessimistic, Dad was not far off. So I’ll add “Don’t expect your brand of justice from the Justice System.” Lawyers, judges, and mediators don’t know your family history, nor do they care about your sibling rivalries. They are tired of the parade of human debris that flows through their courtrooms, and would rather you all get some therapy, have a few beers, and work it out at home. Of course if you don’t, they are more than happy to siphon off all your cash.
If it doesn’t belong to you, don’t touch it.
“STUFF” causes problems. A house-full (and bank-full) of stuff can make you rationalize your choices, be blind to your motives, ignore your scruples, and underestimate your capacity for, well, let’s just call it evil. We all struggle, it’s in our nature. But our job is to pay attention to that little Jiminy Cricket voice (aka Holy Spirit) and step into the Light. Hey, the shoe fits us all sometime.
In my 50-something years, I’ve steamrollered over enough people of my own, some on purpose, and I (and they) won’t always get complete justice until the Resurrection. That’s the Day that every knee will bow to Jesus, who really IS never wrong. Everyone will have to give account of what they’ve done. I believe that means we ALL have a lot of apologizing to do. We’ll all stand naked with the God of the Universe before whom nothing remains hidden, and we’ll KNOW, to the depth of our souls, where we’ve hurt each other. Humility will reign. Our apologies will be real, and honest, and gut wrenching. And relationships will be restored.
I read one time, that when we stand before God, He’ll say, “Welcome, my beloved child! Now go clean up your messes and come inside, because we’re all waiting dinner for you.” That’s justice. That’s grace. That’s heaven. Obviously we’re not there yet.
Apologies to Marcus – you’re one lawyer who truly did NOT want to spend all our cash, but urged us to protect the important things and to reconcile. Thank you.