Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To surround them with love

2 Samuel 9:1-7 (NIV)

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
There’s an awful lot more to the story of David, Jonathan and Saul, obviously. But I love this little snippet. David doesn’t have to reach out to the son of his slain best friend, especially after all the tension with Saul, but he goes out of his way to do so. He does whatever he can to honor the legacy of his friendship with Jonathan. He loved Jonathan like a brother — more so, he said — and he extends that love to Mephibosheth.

I am reminded all too often about people who have rocky relationships with their birth families. There can be a silver lining when great friends become something of a surrogate family. Some folks are blessed to have both a loving family and friends who are just as devoted. Some are unfortunate enough to feel more or less alone. I suppose there are a few souls somewhere who would prefer to be more alone than they actually are, but I’m just not wired that way.

After all the time I’ve spent writing here it comes as little surprise I advocate for the importance of strong family relationships. And given the underlying theme is about being the parent God calls me to be, it’s probably not a shocker to find frequent allusions to a family of faith (including but not limited to a strong church congregation) as a component of a healthy life. But I keep going back to these themes because they ring so true to me and because I have seen the way my life has been positively affected by these types of relationships.

Sometimes being a good parent is as simple as helping my kids develop relationships with the other people in their world who will nurture and sustain them, an extended family of sorts, in one of the many ways that term can be defined. Seeing those relationships flourish, be it the boys spending time with their aunt and uncle or having a conversation with a friend who deeply cares about our family, tends to be an understated yet invaluable experience.

Simply put, I want my children to be surrounded by love. I know it is going to take more than just what we as parents can provide to make that feeling a reality. I relish the support networks that keep me going, no matter the reason we are in each other’s lives in the first place. And I hope I can help be a part of other people’s networks as well. We all have so much to gain through being part of the same community. If only doing it were as easy as saying so.

A prayer for August 7:

Lord, I am beyond thankful for the family and friends in my life today, from so many different parts of my past and present. And yet I come to you in apology for the times I have failed to show them your kindness. I don’t think of myself as a bad friend, but I know there are ways in which I could have been so much more the type of person you call me to be, where I could have let your love shine through me and instead did what suited my own needs. Help me right these wrongs and move forward with an eye toward getting it right from here on out. Amen.

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