Life's big things
What are the really big things in life - things we have as priorities and spend our time and energy on? We all have different ideas on what they are. In my case at this stage I've whittled my list down to two.
First is a walk with God. For a person to be able to go through life with God at his side - that's simply unbeatable. There is nothing comparable - and there speaks a man who's only realised another depth of this reality after more than four decades of being Christian. And having only discovered when I was 60 that this should involve regular discussions with God about everything in our lives, it's much more than "religion". I used to think the Christian religion was different from the others - and to some extent it is - but not in the way I used to think.
Second is relationships with people. My relationship with my wife has survived a while (but not as long as her parents). It has been shaken by things like the death of our first-born, and most recently by my stroke. But through it all which I'm learning to appreciate how other people (including my wife) think. Our marriage is becoming stronger, and this astounds me. Without such testing would it be this strong? I have seen too many crumble under stress - so stress alone is no guarantee of longevity. How could such a wonderful person love me after putting up with so much? A constant amazement.
We have two wonderful children - they're truly special and I love them with all my heart.
We also have extended family. I have one sister - my wife is one of five. All of our siblings are married. Adjusting to a larger family took considerable effort in the early years. I grew up in a town of 2,000 with no phone and no car - and no nearby relatives. My wife and I have very different family backgrounds - to me family is mum, dad and two children. Now I'm part of a larger family, and still getting used to it. If that adjustment has been great, it has given me an insight into how Pakeha and Maori, while both part of one nation, struggle to understand each other.
And then there are friends - by which I mean everyone who's not family. There are a whole range of these - but the one I most valued died on our 25th anniversary. That taught me the reality that no friends can be around forever. So we have to make the most of them while they are here. Never assume your future - now is all you are guaranteed.
Thinking through these big issues I've again been reminded I can be incredibly slow on the uptake. When asked what was the most important of all, Jesus said it was to love God - and he added the second was to love people. I leave you to judge the similarity between my top two things in life and what Jesus said was important.