In this crazy world in which we live and raise our families, there is an over-abundance of expectations, deadlines, aspirations, pursuits and a considerable list of sought-after achievements. We moms (as well as the rest of the population) expend a substantial amount of thought, time, money, energy, hopes and dreams seeking to simply “measure-up.” And the result? We are often frustrated, weary, disappointed and usually a bit poorer.
Our family has been no different. We have been busy and involved, active and largely disorganized. Because we have three children, I have often said – – as we went our “three” or sometimes “five” separate ways – – – “We surely divide and DON’T conquer.” We have at times been harried, scampering messes!
But here’s the thing: whenever and wherever possible, we have sought to be harried, scampering messes TOGETHER!
A few days before our oldest daughter’s wedding we were shopping for gifts for her attendants. We found a small plaque that made me stand in the middle of the store with tears streaming. I ended up buying it and bringing it home for my husband. It summed up perfectly how I was feeling during those last few hectic days we would be a family of five – before we added our newest addition. You may have heard it: I don’t know where it originated. It said simply: “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
That humble statement spoke volumes to my momma’s heart. Whatever befalls, what endeavors fail, what achievements waiver, what hopes and dreams falter, whatever . . . . so long as we are together, nothing else truly matters.
What does “simply being together” look like?
- Sitting around a table, be it at home, at a restaurant – – – sharing a meal or playing a game.
- Sitting beside one another on a church pew or on the bleachers at a gym.
- Lying on a beach together. Sitting on a porch together.
- Hiking a path, walking around the neighborhood, driving around looking at Christmas lights.
- Watching a game or movie on t.v. – just sitting, enjoying being with one another.
- Listening to music, singing or even dancing together (yes, even poorly).
- And here’s a new one – being in a group text together or tagging everyone in a Facebook post. Yes, the notifications can get annoying – but it’s a great way to keep a dispersed group “together” if only in a virtual way!
It doesn’t have to cost much money or take a lot of effort, but it does require a morsel of time, some availability, a glimmer of thought and a tad bit of awareness. It does, indeed, take an unfettered desire to be with one another. It can be spontaneous and disorganized. It need not be a holiday, birthday, celebratory day or special occasion. It can be “just because!” It can be simply because there is tremendous value, importance and pleasure in being just that: “together”.
And what is our part in all of this? Making sure our spouses and kids know how very important just being with them is to us. They need to hear our heartfelt message of how much we value, not a big hoopla – but the sweetness of simple, uncomplicated, cherished time with them. Face it – we are all overbooked, overwrought, overextended, overcommitted – over everything! Sometimes the moments together can only be snippets of seconds we artfully maneuver to meet up for a smile, a hug, a quick chat, a short bite – but those moments are golden.
Togetherness encourages strength, comfort, acceptance, forgiveness, kindness. The truth of scripture greatly encourages togetherness. Ecclesiastes stresses: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (E. 4:12). The amazing promise of Matthew 18:20 is one to seek continually: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we stand together there is not much that can stand against us.
I know the recipe for a get-together is often viewed as complicated, cumbersome, sacrificial, exhausting, expensive, inconvenient and time-consuming. But being together doesn’t have to take such effort. A simple, spontaneous, and yes, serendipitous, time together without flourish or fanfare can be enough to nurture our relationships and our graceful and grateful enjoyment of them.
The art of togetherness need not be an elaborate or arduous ordeal – – – simple is best and all that is required. Simple is sufficient. Why? Because it is truly not about “having it all together” but just “being together” that’s the best gift of all.
As we enter this holiday season which is, sometimes, at best, complicated and wearying, I leave you with the words to the Shaker song “Simple Gifts.” I especially love the verses that were “added” along the way. Enjoy just being together in the days to come.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
Later, additional or alternative verses:
‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,
‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.
Shaker dancing song
Thought to Ponder: Do those I love know that simply “being together” is a sufficient gift to cherish and enjoy?