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Al Cadenhead: Our relationships carry our love into the world

By Al Cadenhead

Mother’s Day was just a few weeks ago, and time has quickly moved us toward Father’s Day on Sunday. These celebrations are very meaningful to me for a number of reasons.

Quite possibly the most important reason is that the observances remind me how blessed I am. In just a few weeks I will cross the 67 year age mark, and I am fully aware that there are very few people my age who still have both parents.

And, additionally, to have both parents with minds that are still sharp. At our ages we are way past the stages of parent-child conflict that might define us.

With the long absence of those stresses that often define parent-child interactions I have been given the privilege of focusing on what is most important of all, the gift of relationship. Without a doubt, love was always been present in the home they provided, and love continues. Yet, the vehicle that transports that love and makes it possible is relationship, and it is this gift of relationship that I have learned to appreciate so much in recent years. I am not sure that I really appreciated it in my formative and growing up years, but I really do now.

What I have learned from my parents is not foreign to the rest of my world. I am now a father and grandfather as well, and I must remind myself regularly that what matters most is relationship.

My parents did not withhold their love when I did not follow every step along the way as they might have preferred, and the reason is clear, relationship. And the love I offer to those who follow behind me in the family must not be conditional. Why is it unconditional? Relationship is underneath it.

Frederick Buechner once wrote, “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”

Relationship is the result of investing ourselves in each other. It is the gift we offer and receive. It is not based on material or money that changes hands. It is believing in someone even when they might not believe in themselves. It occurs when we make time to care, when we offer encouragement on cloudy days, when our love for someone is not contingent on their doing life exactly as we would prefer. It is also allowing others to do the same for us.

Why is relationship so important to us? The answer is simple. It is a part of our genetic makeup. We were created by a God who values it and created us for relationship with Him.

There is no indication that we were brought into being so that God could dominate us and have another way to express His power. We were created for relationship with Him and we are never more fulfilled that when that relationship is strong and vibrant.

What we learn from God, we carry into our friendships and also into our homes. To do so cuts through the loneliness that can at times seem very dark and heavy. There is an old Turkish proverb, “No road is long with good company.” Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are good reminders of that truth.

The Rev. Al Cadenhead leads Providence Baptist Church: acadenhead@providencebc.org.
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