I saw a beautiful thing recently. A friend whose family lives at a distance experienced the passing of an abusive and difficult family member. Similar to my story of being guardian for my volatile and challenging parent, no other relative would take on the task of eulogizing her family member.
Also similarly, we have both been redeemed from the circumstances of our past. We had long ago shared, agonized and prayed over those circumstances and leaned into the Lord to accept a new legacy of our choice. She chose on that day, long ago, not to accept the hurtful worldly legacy, but instead to break the chain and give honor wherever she could find it. I was still surprised and touched to hear her honor her remaining family members with select memories that brought to mind
Philippians. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
Have you had a situation like that? Were you able to find something that was true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, or that had any excellence, or any (little) thing worthy of praise?
What happened when my friend filled her mind with those things listed in Philippians 4:8, and only allowed those things to dwell there – even in the dark of night when those ‘other’ memories come to taunt us that our past is also our future? Her lemons became lemonade – her future covered her past.
My sisters always find the gold in life circumstances and brought hope many times as I grew up and while being guardian to my mom. Marvel came to see Mom in 2010 and led Mom to the Lord! Talk about turning bitter to sweet 🙂
My Aunt Angie helped me to make lemonade with my mother’s obituary too, looking for gold and finding bits to remember and rejoice in. Below is a part of Mom’s lemonade-eulogy – and thanks to my friend I’ve thought of more since then. If you have lemons in your life (and who doesn’t) I hope this gives you some ideas to journal, to find some gold for which you also can give thanks, and make some life-lemonade.
Freda Eva (Cudnohufsky) Christian – February 15, 2012
Mom loved to tell stories of life including tales of her 15 siblings, rationing and delivering baskets of food through the depression, learning to bake for her family (of 16) at 9 years of age, and carrying her lunch in a Karo syrup pail to the one-room school in Pound, WI. Mom enjoyed preserving food, making herbal decoctions, being part of the Hermansville IXL history, and sending her young husband to work on the Soo Locks with raisin filled cookies, poppyseed and roly-poly (walnut-raisin) breads. She was limited to an 8th grade education, and her life goal for her children to graduate high school was exceeded by all five. Freda was also proud to earn certificates in community classes for ceramics, computers, nursing and music. She played gospel music by ear on the organ and keyboard and was thrilled to receive birthday cards from Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea.
Freda’s moments of pride including singing and tap dancing for the Senior Abidon Follies, being a Tupperware and Avon representative, helping her husband Clarence operate a grocery store in their First Street Home in Hermansville and later Christian Appliance Center in Norway and Hermansville, and a postyard near Hermansville.
If like my friend, you have had years of separation, or as my experience in the last span of time we had together, much bitterness was made sweet, I know we both experienced refreshment, and I believe you can too.
Take another look with us, would you, at Philippians 4:8 and go on a gold hunt as you write in the name of one, two, or three of the most difficult personalities in your life.
Lemonade, you will find, whether on a hot summer day, or in eulogies of the days of our lives, can bring deep refreshment and be an example to those who follow in our steps.
Found any gold lately?
Beautiful and thought-provoking, Delores.
Becky, Sometimes it is easier for us to remember the thorns than the scent of the rose. I was so touched to see my friend embrace this verse and choose not to let those thorn-moments form the final picture for her family.