Life holds endless opportunities for growth and understanding. From the moment of our conception, our parents begin teaching and guiding us through the many perils and pitfalls of life. We learn how to relate to others. We learn how to communicate. We learn how to make decisions and see them through. We learn how to embrace the things which are good for us and reject the bad and deal with the consequences of those bad choices we will inevitably make. Most of all, we learn how to love.
My mother is a spry 83 years old but is struggling with a new lifestyle that is difficult for her to accept. When I was a little boy struggling with whatever things I may have struggled with, she was there, listening, allowing me to vent and try to work out things on my own. She would step in only if she saw what I was about to do would end up hurting me worse than I may already be, or she would step aside, knowing full well that whatever she may say or do I was hell bent to do it regardless of the cost.
As we age, we hopefully begin to acquire a sense of wisdom gained mainly by listening to our parents. But it seems like it often takes some time for us to practice such wisdom! Eventually, we usually do employ this quality making life a little easier to bear.
One of the most unique aspects of life I have discovered is the fact that as both we and our parents grow older, our roles begin to shift. Once, they parented us, looking out for us, caring for us, and seeing to it that all our needs were taken care of and that what we did possess allowed us to experience a degree of happiness.
As my mother has aged, there have been times when I have felt that I had become the parent and she had assumed the role of the child. My mother has rarely come to me to talk to me to help her with some problem or issue she was grappling with at the time. That just isn't in her nature. Or so until very recently.
There has been a great deal of gratification in this. But, also, there is a sense of sadness. Gratification, because I am able to draw upon years of life spent finding my way through those very pitfalls that she once helped guide me through. But, sad, too, because I realize that she is now more dependent on me than I am on her on several levels. I welcome this role and thank God for the honor and the opportunity to lend my ear to this very independent and proud woman.
We all find ourselves at various points throughout our lives finding ourselves amidst surprising clarity. It is now more clear to me than ever before why I have experienced the things in life which I have experienced. God has allowed me to undergo trials (many of which were initiated by me), in order to apply the outcome of these trials to those around me who are in need--including my very own mother.
The moral of the story is this. No matter how old you may be, no matter how aggravated you may become with your parents, always find a way to be present to them. It is very clear that as they age they will need you in ways beyond your wildest dreams. But you need them, too. Not so much to protect you from the bumps in life, but to continue to grow within, thus becoming a better human being. Never take them for granted for God has given them to you for very special reasons. Embrace them as such. Hold on to them, and once they are gone, keep alive the memories that you have of them by sharing them with succeeding family generations.
One day, if we all live long enough, we may very well find ourselves in this role reversal. It is not an easy task but it happens because our loving God embraces us with the power and the ability to love someone on levels that He will continually reveal as long as we draw breath. Even after our parents pass from this life, we continue to learn from them because, again, a loving God has given us minds that are capable of traveling far beyond our mortal existence. Take strength in your parents and treasure each moment, each phase that you share with them. Realize that this is the love of God touching your life in a very special way!