Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Service to others ...

"Service to others will help you become deaf to a voice inside of you that does not believe in happiness."

(Hafiz - Persian mystic, 1320-1389)

Forgive ...

#1 on my Top 10 List for Parents of Adult Children is ...

Forgive.

If there is one thing that can save family relationships,

hold marriages together,

heal old wounds

and protect new wounds from festering

it is the simple, yet costly act of forgiveness.

I love how Jesus puts it when his followers ask him how to pray.

He tells them to pray:

"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors"

or

"Forgives us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Tricky, Jesus .... tricky.

Do you see how he connects these two actions into one unified request?

We ask for the forgiveness of the Divine, our Creator, for all the ways we fall short, mess up, fail, wound, hurt.

And then ...

We turn right around and forgive all of those who fall short, mess up, fail, wound or hurt us.

Does this mean we allow abusive parents to still abuse us? Nope.

Does this mean we give our drug-addicted children drug money? Nope.

Does this mean we gloss over pain and heartache and mean words and broken promises? Nope.

There will always be hard conversations to have, truth to share and boundaries to set.

Always.

But, at the same time, we can also always forgive.

Always.

And we can start with the smallest of things - a word said in anger, a miscommunication, a forgotten birthday.

If we practice forgiveness in the small, we will be experts at it when it comes to the big.

If there is one thing I would leave all of us with as I bid a fond farewell to this little run of posts about parents and adult kids, it would be this:

Forgive each other in the same manner in which you have been forgiven by your heavenly Parent ...

If we can do that we may just spare ourselves and those we love from an abundance of unnecessary pain.

There is freedom and joy in forgiveness.

It is a gift you can give at any time; the greatest gift you can ever give to another human being.

And in the paradoxical way of the Kingdom of Jesus you will find that it is simultaneously the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Amen.

The year mom swore a little ...

Ok, one last little bit of hard-earned wisdom about the power of laughter in the parent-adult child system, especially around the volatile holiday season.

One Christmas I ruined everything by trying too hard.

WAY too hard ...

My daughter was bringing home a new boyfriend.

My brother and his family were coming for Christmas Eve dinner.

I - in my own mind - was going to crush it.

I was going to do all the traditions, have a great tree, cook a superb meal, make everyone feel welcome, have a few little surprises for my nieces who are Jewish, get just the perfect gifts, blah, blah, blah ... you know the drill.

Whole dang thing went south on me because no one - especially my adult husband and my 3 adult kids - didn't cooperate with all my ridiculousness. How dare they?

So I spent the bulk of Christmas Eve in bed weeping, pretending I had the flu, while my entire family laughed and celebrated at my dining room table.

Sad.

The next year I came up with a new plan - This would be the year mom swore a little. (Or, a lot depending on the circumstances.)

This created all kinds of fun for everyone involved.

A well-placed, polite little swear-bomb can sure lighten the mood, people.

Especially when young adult kids push back on all our best-laid plans.

Happiest. Christmas. Ever.

Now, I know the Bible discourages coarse language. I get it.

But what do you think is worse?

A cry-baby mom in her bed thinking bad thoughts about her family on the eve of our Lord's birth ...

or a nicely placed little cuss word?

Laughter - it works every time.

Try it.

Set the whole thing trembling ...

I love me some Freddy Buechner ... a Presbyterian pastor with a knack for turning a phrase.

The smallest acts of kindness, even circumscribed within our own families, can, as Buechner says, "set the whole thing trembling ..."

Stay kind, my friends ... stay kind.

Kindness can change the world.

Listen to how Buechner puts it:

"Humanity is like an enormous spider web, so that if you touch it anywhere, you set the whole thing trembling…

As we move around this world and as we act with kindness, perhaps, or with indifference, or with hostility, toward the people we meet, we too are setting the great spider web a-tremble.

The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt.

Our lives are linked together.

No one is an island."

(Frederick Buechner, b. 1926)