Togetherness has been on my mind over the last two years, but I really didn’t identify that is what I was thinking about until God laid this on my heart. He said, Sarah the reason you feel broken is because your family unit is broken and you have little to no support system. But what does this mean EXACTLY? I was talking to my friend a few weeks ago about it, and the best way I know how to describe it is through canning. Do you remember as a child, or maybe your parents telling you stories of how in the summer they would get together with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins and they would can together? I remember vividly my Grandmother coming to visit and we would can peaches, pickles, green beans, and many other types of summer produce. I can also remember sitting on front porches and snapping beans. This was life. You did it with your people.
Today, it goes a little deeper. It isn’t just that the majority of us don’t can anymore. It is that we don’t “drop by” or “come through the back door.” We also don’t drop by with a hot meal for a friend or sister for no reason. We also don’t drop everything we are doing to go help a friend because she is sick as a dog. Now don’t get me wrong–kindness abounds! I have so many friends and family who have loved, and supported, and cared for me. But this is my point…this help isn’t automatic. It has to be preplanned, scheduled, talked about, verified, and confirmed before we make it happen. Thirty years ago, there was no plan. If Grandma got a call that there was a sick neighbor, she was there as soon as she could grab a jar of peaches, wrangle the children, and drive there. This is no longer the societal norm.
I read an article today by Beth Berry and she had this to say about the topic.
We’re supposed to be crying, celebrating, falling down, and rising together. We’re supposed to have grandmothers and aunts and neighbors and cousins sharing the everyday moments, guiding us and helping us see the sacredness in the insanity. We’re supposed to be nurtured for months postpartum, cared for when we’re sick, held while we mourn, and supported during challenging transitions.
We’re being forced to create all of these things for ourselves within a society that has physically and energetically restructured itself around a whole new set of priorities. It’s a profits before people model that threatens the well-being of nearly everything we mothers are wired to protect.
When a mother has a baby, there isn’t someone to cook, clean, do the laundry, and help where needed for the first month. Most of us are blessed if we get that the first week! Technically we are “healed” at six weeks, but most of us have little to no help for those first weeks. If a family member has surgery and is out of work, there are not meals provided, or people stopping by daily to make sure you need anything. If there is–that is a rarity.
In my eyes, in my own life…my family unit is broken. This may sound harsh. But it is the truth. There are huge walls built up between certain members of my family, and we are a “do it yourself” family where no one wants to be in the thick of it with anyone else. Being in this place is lonely. Because honestly? I want to be in the thick of it with my people. My family says it can’t be fixed, things can’t be mended, it can’t go back to the way it was before.
That is a lie.
It is never too late for a fresh start. We get one every single day. We get to try a new thing. Bridge a gap. Say we are sorry. Try harder. Every single day we have a choice about whether we choose to be transparent and venerable or not.
So what if you don’t like your family that much? What if there is so much hurt and so much baggage of the years of toxicity, that you feel like you are walking into a minefield before you even try?
I suggest you first evaluate your priorities. Ask yourself if it is important when that person takes their last breath on this earth, that they will know that you loved and cared for them? If the answer is yes, then you need to let it all go! You have to get yourself to a place where you are able to forgive and let the past be the past. Because resentment is not doing anyone any favors. Move on. Start fresh.
A great first step is something simple. A phone call. Pick up that phone and call for no other reason than to say, “Hi, how are you?” Then, the next time maybe ask if there is some way that you can help them this week. The magic happens when we start this first step because it creates a pattern of kindness and love. When people are shown love and kindness, they are more likely to show others love and kindness. Eventually this kindness will build into a deep rooted togetherness. You will want to go pick those strawberries and make some jam together because absolutely nothing sounds more fun than being with your people. When someone takes a hard hit in their life? You will be in the car in two shakes–because you care. Instead of it being second nature to us, this will become the normal again.
This is like weaving a basket. You can’t weave a basket with only two strips of wood or grass, you need many. If one of the strips breaks, the whole basket does not fall apart. It holds together because of all of the other strips supporting it when it’s under pressure. This is also how God designed the family unit. You have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers, fathers, and siblings. All of those people represent strands, and when they practice togetherness, they are woven together and are able to withstand the pressure when someone breaks.
In my eyes I see us sitting and snapping beans, laying out a quilt and watching the kids catch fireflies.
This may be one of the most important topics, I ever write about and I hope that this isn’t the last time I open up the dialog about this subject with you. What is one way you can think of to show a family member or close friend kindness and love this week?