This past few weeks I have been giving a lot of thought about what it means to be there for family. I am not talking about when a crisis or tragedy occurs, those are the easy times to be supportive and rally around the people involved. I am talking about being there for the celebrations, even if we don't feel like celebrating with them. (A quick disclaimer here...to my family who live out of state...this has nothing to do with the upcoming wedding...I totally understand financial and time difficulties.)
Recently I became aware of a situation of a young woman marrying without the support of her parents. They did not approve of her choice in a mate, so they effectively boycotted the wedding. The man she married did not have a criminal record and didn't beat her, in fact they they had been together for over 5 years as a couple. While they may not have approved of him, their daughter was certainly old enough to make her own decision in this matter.
My husband and I discussed this quite a lot and pretty much came to the conclusion that unless our child was marrying someone we suspected of physically harming them, that we would be there for them on their wedding day. We would be there to support them in their joy, and if we were proved right in our assessment of their choice in mate, we would be there to support them as they picked up the pieces of their broken relationship.
I have, unfortunately seen this in my own family. The parents were ultimately proved wrong in their assessment and came to care for their child's spouse. More amazing was the forgiveness the couple extended to the parents...but the damage was already done. The woman can't erase the memories of a walk down the aisle with someone other than her father, or a wedding dress never admired by her mother.
Even more sad was the loss on the parents side. As a mother I wouldn't have traded the experience of being with my daughter on her wedding day for anything. And the pride my husband felt as he walked his baby girl down the aisle was immeasurable. These parents cheated themselves as well as their daughter out of these experiences...experiences that can never be recaptured. What a shame.
Sometimes we may be there physically to show support, but emotionally we are bitter, jealous or just plain unhappy, and this shows. Instead of loving kindness we exude bitterness, sarcasm, snarky comments and put-downs. I wish I could say I have never done this myself, but I have. Sometimes when you are going through a particularly difficult time, it is hard to share someone else's joy with them. Why should their life be full of happiness while your's seems full of misery? But if we give in to this it is something that both parties may remember for many years to come. We need to rise above our feelings and shower them joy...it will make us feel better too!
So the next time you have a chance to celebrate with loved ones, grab the opportunity for all it is worth! Those are the memories we need to make as a family...something happy to hold onto when the next tragedy occurs in our lives.