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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Family Appreciation Day”

As I’ve said before, one of the tragedies of life is that we take too much for granted. But what goes along hand-in-hand with that is that we tend to live “in-the-moment”. That’s usually a good thing in the sense of our day-to-day concerns and worries. After all, we can’t change the past although we can learn from it, and while it’s good to have an outlook toward the future it’s also bad to obsess too much about misfortune that may never come.

But when it comes to individuals, focusing only on the moment can be a hindrance. Similar to Apple Bloom in this episode, I had a hard time visualizing my own grandparents ever being anything more than “my grandparents” growing up. Oh, there were pictures of them around when they were younger, just as there were of my parents, aunts, and uncles, but I still had the subconscious mindset that they were always just “this age” with this lifestyle and capability. It’s hard even to this day to imagine they were ever at a point similar to I am or have been, where they felt themselves unsure, trying to find their own way in life, wondering about expenses or corralling kids or finding a job or any of that. I always just saw them as that “old person” who lived in this house and we visited from time to time.

Of course, the real problem with seeing both my grandparents, and most of the rest of my family, for that matter, in a light that just sees them as “there” is that I tend to think little about them being around. I don’t know how many times that I’ve rolled my eyes or even groaned when I’ve been asked to drive over to do a chore a member of my family is having trouble with, or found myself watching the clock at certain family events that I’ve found boring, or gone off to play a game or look at my cell phone during holidays together, or excused myself from an activity for want of doing something on my own that’s more entertaining…or perhaps made up an excuse.

I’m over 30 years old now. I’ve been luckier than many with how long I’ve had with relatives in my life. However, I’m starting to reach the point where people are “leaving” whether I like it or not. At first it was my grandparents, but that was several years ago now. It’s getting to the point where I’m waking up one day and realizing the last time I saw and talked to people who were my parents’ age was my last chance I ever had to say anything to them and I didn’t even realize it. I’m starting to face the reality that one day…a day that’s sooner than I’d like…I’m going to wake up and me and my sisters will be the “oldest generation” in the family. And when that happens, I wonder if the people I know and depended on for so long in my life will know that I was thankful for all of it, or that I truly loved them even if I never showed it as much as I should have. That I never meant anything hateful or mean I said in an argument, or how little it mattered if I was “right” in those situations. That time we spent together is incredibly precious to me and are memories I’ll never forget.

In the parable of the ten virgins and in the context of the Second Coming, Jesus frequently referred to the necessity of being ready and vigilant due to not knowing the proper time. In Matthew 25:13 is His infamous quote, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” However, this situation can apply to just about everything unexpected. As well-off as we are or as secure as we are, we fail to appreciate just how easily what we have can be taken away. This is especially true to people.

In today’s episode, Apple Bloom learned to appreciate her own grandmother more in spite of her doing things that occasionally embarrassed her or seemed odd; to be grateful to have her in her life. She stopped looking at her as some “unfortunate aspect she had to deal with from time to time” and started valuing her more for who she was now and who she had been. And it’s always an important thing for a person to feel like they are valuable at any age…perhaps even especially in older years. Like they matter. Like they’re important to their own loved ones and not just some “chore” they put on a to-do list out of a sense of obligation. Odds are when our own families get older and we have children of our own we’ll all feel the temptation to focus more on them to the exclusion of people in our past, especially when they could eventually become too much of a hassle to take care of or interact with (such as in light of things such as hips failing, hearing and vision dimming, memory loss, or other terminal diseases).

But it’s important not to forget our older family, and how much it means to them when someone stops by to see how they’re doing, or calls them to ask how they’ve been and just talk for a while. Especially as we all get older and find ourselves more and more alone. To let them know “you are a valuable part of my life that I am grateful for”.

As (in the USA) Thanksgiving nears, I’d like to encourage everyone to take some time out to appreciate the members of their family, and be thankful for who you have in your life. If you haven’t taken the time out lately to tell them you love them or show them you care, please consider doing that…especially at this time of year.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the gift of my family, and all the special moments we’ve shared together over the years. As I grow and age myself, please help me to remember my own more ‘senior’ loved ones and to show them how much I appreciate them every once in a while. Help me to do so while they are still here to hear it, especially if I haven’t done so lately. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”