Updated: Nov 2
The sign on my tailor’s shop reads, “A Stitch in Time.”
A stitch in time saves nine. Musing over this quote never brings to mind stitches on wearable items. Clothing is replaceable; some people even ban their clothes to the donation bin after a season anyway.
Thinking of preventative maintenance leads me to more wallet-emptying things, like a car or a furnace, but those too are replaceable. Once, my mind alights to irreplaceables, like…
Some say even relationships are fungible because, hey, you can always get a new friend. But parents, siblings, and other family members are one-of-a-kind; so, my mind settles on these associations.
Rifts between kin are a reality. Perhaps a pre-emptive salvaging opportunity was lost, because the time to save nine has come and gone. Who knows and who cares where that piece of the family tree was left flapping around?
Sometimes, when we’re not too busy being indignant about the family member who wronged us, a feeling creeps up like poison ivy from the heart; we do our best to dampen some thorny Sunday readings to convince ourselves these themes do not apply to us. A few particularly prickly themes:
In Matthew 5:9 Christ pronounces, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
I don’t know about always being a peacemaker, but I certainly want to be called a son or daughter of God.
Humble, Gentle, Patient
St. Paul says, in Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love….”
The term bearing with one another through love makes me think about gritting my teeth. Some people are so good at that, or deep breathing, or giving themselves a time-out to bear through the offenses of a family member or in-law. To hear about love requires no bearing or gritting; it's as easy as running through a bed of daisies, but to actually show love is where gritting comes in handy.
Love, love for real; sometimes the L word feels like a four-letter one, and this L word is a bear, and I'd rather be mauled by one than deal with this person. Or maybe being with this person is like being mauled by a bear.
James 1:19: “everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath….”
We have to ask ourselves whether that last thread of our stitch wouldn’t have ripped if peacemaking, humility, gentleness, and patience had ruled our relationship.
In Ephesians 4:32, St. Paul implores “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
St. Paul says to offer forgiveness and compassion (whether perpetrator or victim), regardless of the reason for the untimely end to our relationship. At the very least, we are to offer forgiveness.
These scripture themes give me pause, but more importantly, an epiphany: some people in our lives – especially those in our families (who annoy the heck out of us and can make us miserable) are there to make us PRACTICE SCRIPTURE! We have to show love, and BEAR through it -- not just hear about it.
And PRACTICE it OVER and OVER. And if we are waiting for the practicing to be over, we might be waiting for the rest of our lives.
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