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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Abandoning Ship?


I have a copy of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation.  I haven’t read it yet, but I will.  Because I grew up with it.  My parents were from that generation.  

I don’t know if it really was the greatest generation ever, I mean, America’s Founding Fathers were pretty impressive, and those guys who got the Renaissance going have something to take note of, don’t you think?  Nonetheless, this “greatest generation” did something pretty impressive, accomplishing some pretty impressive things, like ending the Nazi threat of world domination by rising to the challenge through sacrifice, hard work, and inventiveness.  

Also, from everything I have heard, the Great Depression, as well as the Dust Bowl days in the plains of the Midwest, were also pretty challenging experiences.  Perhaps those very experiences were the very things that developed the character necessary to face the great challenges that evolved around the world in the subsequent years.

I think there were several things in particular that were the lessons my parents learned that shaped their lives, and which were communicated through their parenting.  

The first lesson was that “things don’t make you happy.”  

Dad used to say, looking back at how little they had and how hard their family had it on the farm in the Depression:  “We were miserably poor, but I guess we didn’t realize it, because everyone else was poor, too!”   He learned that joy and meaning in life were not tied to having the fanciest meals to eat, or the nicest clothes to wear.  He knew that family is important, and it isn’t our circumstances, but our attitudes and choices that determine whether we are content with our lives or not.

The other lesson I want to pass along today is that Dad also believed that life is hard sometimes.  Yet, hard times are opportunities to rise to a challenge, and even in the midst of hard times, there are joyful moments and experiences for those who bother to notice and enjoy them.

I wonder what kind of characteristics would be highlighted to describe the generations alive today.  I suspect we may be remembered as the generation who allowed the moral compass to be misplaced, and political correctness to stepped into the vacuum left behind, claiming to be the “new morality”.  I wonder if we will be remembered as a generation who lost their “staying power,” preferring instead quick and easy “bandaid” solutions rather than truly facing the tough issues, such as declaring a love for mother earth and green causes, while drinking water from fashionable plastic bottles that simply do not biodegrade.

I have known a number of marriages in which the couples hit hard times, and it appeared they gave up very quickly, rather than tackle the hard things.  Last night at church we talked about people who come to Christ, but don’t last, giving up instead when hard times hit.  We also considered how often people in churches will abandon ship rather than see the tough times through in their church, even though all churches face tough issues of one sort at some time.  

Let me also add that living and working through the aftermath of divorce is also one of the hard times of life that can either get you down and send you looking for a quick and easy out, or cause you to rise to the challenge in a way that produces character and deepens your faith.  

It occurs to me tonight, that just because the tide of the times may be flowing in directions that could encourage you to quit, to give up, or to take the easy way out in lives, doesn’t mean you can’t swim against the tide and stand strong.  In fact, I suspect that choosing to swim against that tide makes your stand even more profound.  

So whatever tempts you, hang in there.  Maybe you will end up setting the standard for the NEXT “greatest generation”!

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