We live our lives in stages. I have found myself having to confront and make peace with this reality as of late, as my wife and I have started the long and arduous process of dismantling our home of 27 years, as we prepare to sell our house and downsize to a 2 bedroom rented condominium. Considering where we are in our lives – with all our children now living away from home, and indeed my wife living primarily in Detroit – this dramatic shift makes sense. Why maintain a 4 bedroom house, when most of the time only one person is living there, with that number only growing to 3 every other weekend. So ends the home ownership stage of our lives and so will begin the stage of returning to smaller dwellings. Yes, returning. For when we first were married, 37 years ago, for three years we lived in rented apartments – in the newlywed stage of our lives – as we eagerly looked forward to, and saved for, that time when we would enter our home ownership stage, and the raising of a family.
Yes, we live our lives in stages. If we are blessed, then most of our journeys from stage to stage are joyous adventures; starting school, no longer needing a babysitter, getting a driver’s license, going off to college, getting married, buying a home, giving birth to children, watching our own children travel through their own set of stages. Even the stages in the later periods of our lives can be wondrous adventures, such as grandparenthood and retirement. Yet, when all is considered, the various stages of our lives have more to do with what we make of them than what they make of us.
Still, even as we live so much of our lives in stages, there are – or should be – certain constants present as well. Love should be one such constant. It can grow, as we enfold more people into our circle of love, but we should work very hard never to let it diminish or disappear. Our love for our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children, their spouses, their children, our relatives and friends, should never be treated as stages in our lives. We should never grow out of love with these people who have found a place in our hearts and in whose hearts we have found a place. Yes, there will be days when we find that our feelings for these people will either rise or wane, but they should never disappear.
The same should hold true for our feelings toward God, faith, and the Jewish people. Belief in God, our practice of religion, and our attachment to the Jewish people should never be considered as a stage or a phase in our lives. We should never find ourselves saying, “Yes. Jewish living used to be important to me. I used to pray. I used to study. I used to be involved in the Jewish community, but since then I moved on. I’ve grown out of that phase.” God, faith, the Jewish people are not meant to be likened to the width of our ties, the length of our skirts, the style of our hair, or even the type of car we drive or the home we live in. Connecting with God should be more of a continual desire than whether or not we feel that minivans are still functional in our lives. Rather we should approach our relationship with God, faith, and the Jewish people more in the manner in which we approach our relationships with our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children, our family, our friends. Like with those relationships, our bonds to God, the Jewish religion, and the Jewish people, will over time change, evolve, and hopefully grow. There will be good times. There will be bad times. There will be those times when these relationships raise us up to the heights, and there may be times as well when we find them bending almost to the breaking point. Almost to the breaking point; but we should never let them break. For when they break, whether or not we realize it, we break as well.
Just as with our loved ones, no matter how busy our lives may be, we need to carve out time to be with God and the Jewish people. For if we do make time for them, we will find that just as with our loved ones, there is miraculous healing and strength to be found.
Tags: Connecting to God, Connecting with others, Faith, Family, God, How Meaningful Religion is in One's Life, Jewish, Living a Fuller Life, Living a Quality Life, Love, managing change, Parenthood, Prayer, Relationships, Stages of life, Synagogue Life, The Passage of TimeYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.