Stability endures the hard times

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Little pig, little pig, let me in," said the big bad wolf. "Not by the hair of my chinny chinny chin," said the little pig, and so the story goes. The houses that were quickly built and of poor quality were unable to withstand the huffing and puffing of the wolf. However the sturdy house that was built with care using strong materials survived the wind from the wolf. The same holds true of what has substance in life.

"Beauty is only skin deep" is a judgment that everyone hears from childhood on. What's merely attractive isn't always lasting. You're invincible when you're young. You can challenge the world and win, you think. Your hope is strong.

You choose a pretty or handsome mate, if you can, and do not desire to remain single. But what holds the relationship together isn't the beautiful exterior. Rather the glue that sticks is the attributes of trust, friendship, loyalty and what you go through together. Although many cheat on their spouses, after the excitement and enchantment wear off thoughts of what they left behind surface. They remember the fun they had, the children they reared together and the solidity of comfortable sameness. The partner regrets his erroneous choice, but it's too late to repair the damage. Was the ego boost from the clandestine affair worth it? It was often a quick fling; people gave little thought to the consequences of the actions.

What's attractive, exciting, glamorous and power-enabling is almost always appealing to some people. This is evidenced in Christian Scripture. Even Satan was aware of the principle. He tried to tempt Jesus in the desert by suggesting a way that Jesus could obtain bread, because he was hungry from fasting. Satan dangled power by offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and lastly, a chance to prove he was really God by throwing himself off a high a high location without hurting himself.

Jesus saw right through Satan's plans and used the self-control he received from the Holy Spirit. We, however, do not always have the foresight or will-power to turn from what's most alluring to our senses.

A person visited his parents recently. He was at a period in his life when he was beginning to gain a sense of his own mortality. While at dinner one evening the man said, concerning his parents, "You know ... when you look at the aging process, it isn't very pretty." Yet he still loved his parents, and he was willing to take time and make the effort to show his love. Regardless of their condition, he remembered how they were as they raised him. He recalled how hard they tried to be there and support him. The stability they had provided through the years was more memorable than how they looked, now, or the state of their physical condition. His love for them still endured.

When you value those who have been available when you needed them most, regardless of your sometimes crusty personality, you see through different eyes. The beauty you see, then, is in the face of the one you've seen each morning visiting you at the hospital or that's cooked breakfast while you slept. You think of the person who's worked every day so your needs were met. You begin to look inside rather than outside. Your ego is satisfied by realizing how important it was to have had another by your side that still loves and cherishes you.

You might ask yourself, when the grass looks greener, if you are thinking of yourself or your loved ones. Perhaps you need to take a step back, look at what you have and evaluate yourself remembering you're made in God's image.

See what's underneath, what's endured in life.

That's what stands when the winds blow strong.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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