Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When Upon Life's Billows

a few days ago, my friend brent got a call from his son sam, who was filled with excitement because he had been offered a job in a town about a thousand miles away.  sam's new job gives him the opportunity to use his talents and experience in ways that past jobs have not, and the location is ideal for his son, who loves to hike and camp.  the town to which he plans to move is in the high desert, with several national parks nearby and the rockies almost at the city limits.   it's no wonder that sam was elated about the possibilities when he called his dad.

i was startled when brent reacted in anger and hurt.  "why is he doing this to me?  there are lots of jobs near where i live.  why would he take a job so far away?" my friend asked.  i didn't know how to react.  a lecture on how brent should have felt wouldn't be helpful, and i could understand why brent wanted his son to live near him as he gets up in years.  i sympathized and suggested that this would give brent an opportunity to visit sam in what seemed to be a perfect location.  i reminded him that inexpensive flights to near sam's new home are often available.  "i'm not going.  he doesn't want to see me or he wouldn't move so far away," brent told me.

my heart aches for brent and for sam.  i know that sam is at a stage in his life and in his career that makes taking advantage of what he's been offered attractive to him.  i know that sam wants to venture off, since he's lived in the same area his whole life, and an offer like this may never come his way again.  right now, he has no children, and there are good job opportunities for his wife in this new town.  if they can get established there and prosper, then sam and his wife can begin their family, and brent will have the grandchildren he yearns for.

i wanted to say, "this is not about you, brent.  try to see this through sam's eyes, and be happy for him.  here is this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that sam would be crazy to pass up.  life has presented sam with a great job in an ideal location, and you should be excited for him and be thrilled that he called you immediately to share this joy with you."  i knew that lecturing brent wouldn't help him, though, and i hope that, as sam talks more with his father about his plans, brent will have a change of heart.  right now, all i can do is share brent's suffering and hope for a good outcome.

may we take upon ourselves a measure of the suffering of others, reacting to them with compassion, even when we believe they are wrong.  may we be present for others in their suffering, never presuming to tell them what they should be feeling.  may our love help others overcome their suffering as we share in their hurt and grief.  shalom.

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