Life’s Highs and Lows
We have mentioned in past writings (for example, in this post) that Mary Jo and I belong to a marriage support movement known as Teams of Our Lady (TOOL). In this group we gather together with four other couples on a monthly basis to share a meal, spend time in prayer and discuss whatever spiritual enrichment book we have chosen to devote our year to studying.
During the meal, each couple takes a few moments to share on what has transpired in their lives over the past month since we last met and what our “highs and “lows” are for that month. In the TOOL lingo, this is referred to as a “whip-around”, since it is only meant to be a rather brief sharing by each individual. But truth be told, many times in our team, this “whip-around” goes on for the better part of an hour and our meal time ends up to be quite extended. It seems there is a great deal to share some months, which is not surprising when you consider that there are eighteen children and three grandchildren amongst our five couples. Something, whether good or bad, is always needing to be shared by one or another couple.
What I have found from this time of sharing is that it helps me, and I believe all of our team members, to pause and take a few moments to reflect on what is going on in our lives and how it is impacting us on an emotional and spiritual level. It allows us the opportunity to verbally express how we are feeling, how things really are going in our lives and what our high points and lows points are.
I know for myself that it is very easy to just get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life and function almost in an autopilot mode. I can easily focus most of my thoughts and energies into a “what needs to get done now” mentality and move from one day to the next without even noticing the bigger picture, whether it be regarding my relationship with Mary Jo, with our children or my relationship with God.
For example, it seems that Mary Jo is most often, or rather almost always the one to notice and call for a “time-out” when something in our marital relationship is out of sync. She will come to me and tell me we need to talk about this or that aspect of our relationship which needs attention. However, many times this catches me completely off guard. Perhaps it is a trait of the male, or perhaps just me, but she notices when something is not quite right well before I am ever aware of it.
So, I find that during the monthly sharing at out Teams meeting I am forced to think and reflect on exactly what is going on in my life, or our shared life, and examine how I have been dealing with it. I can rejoice and give thanks to God for the highs, the blessings that have occurred recently. And I can share the lows, the troubles and burdens with others, and ask for their prayers and help.
A life lived in relationship with one another and with God will most certainly have its ups and downs, highs and lows. Times of joy and fullness. And times of emotional exhaustion and spiritual dryness. As it states in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”
To ignore the times of dryness is to fail to learn the lessons which are to be taught from them. To not acknowledge the blessings and the joys which they bring to our life is to be ungrateful to the God who bestows all that is good upon us.