Is Everybody Really Fine?

Dianne E. Shelton, A River Runs Through It, Abstract Painting
Dianne E. Shelton, A River Runs Through It, Abstract Painting

Those We Love Can Remain Painfully Elusive

The Christmas holidays almost always provide parents a chance to catch up on the lives of their grown up children. Not just in how they are managing with their lives away from home, but what’s happening to them in a spiritual sense. Somehow parents need to know that everything’s fine.

A film entitled Everybody’s Fine is the story about a father and widower, Frank Goode, who receives word from all his children that they won’t be coming home for their summer reunion. His great concern for the children leads him to make the trek toward them instead. The road trip leads him to make a surprise visit to each sibling. Frank sets out to see his artist son in New York City, his daughter the ad exec in Chicago, his son the conductor on tour and presently in Denver, and his daughter who’s a performer in Las Vegas. As he comes in contact with each child, their hidden stories unravel before him. None are as he imagined or hoped for. Everything isn’t what it seemed as he faces the challenge of sorting out their broken and wounded lives.

While on a train, Frank carries a conversation with a complete stranger. As the telephone poles rush by, he points out to the stranger that he was responsible for working in a factory where he covered telephone wires. He states, “A million feet of wire to get them where they are today.” The fruit of Frank’s work in covering telephone wires symbolizes his success. He reflects upon his life work, “all the conversations that have taken place over that wire, breaking good news and bad news.” Ironically, just as he covered these wires, his conversations with his children throughout the years may have been all good, yet they too covered up the wires of bad news in their lives. In truth, the lines were crossed and there existed a disconnect between Frank and his four children. Everybody wasn’t fine underneath the facade of fragile lives.

Another film entitled A River Runs Through It focused on the lives of two fly fishing sons of a Presbyterian minister living in the 1920s rural Montana. Norman, the oldest brother is reserved, while Paul, the younger, is rebellious in his ways. As adults, Norman matures and pursues a college degree to become a level-headed English professor. He remains grounded in his career path. Paul, on the other hand, continues to sow his wild oats. He stays in Montana becoming a journalist who pursues a reckless path toward gambling and drinking. The lives of the two brothers are as different as night and day. The only thing they have in common is their love of fly fishing.

Sadly, Paul's persistent and rebellious ways cost him his life. Norman's girlfriend, Jessie, wonders about Paul's choice to walk the crooked path and how it led to his untimely end. She asks Norman, "Why is it the people who need the most help... won't take it?"

Norman reflects upon Jessie's question along with his late brother's choices and thinks to himself, "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."

The father of Norman and Paul, Reverend Maclean, in a church Sunday sermon says, “Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is with those we live with and should know, who elude us. But we can still love them—we can love completely without complete understanding.”

This season has caused me to contemplate upon the lives of my oldest son in Seattle, my newly-married daughter in San Diego, and my youngest daughter in San Francisco. The West Coast has beckoned each one to make their bones along its shores. As I set out to reconnect with my own children this Christmas, I must not ignore the fact that life and the choices presented to each one is difficult as it is challenging. And in spite of our desire to reach out and offer help to those we love, our kids can remain painfully elusive like Norman's younger brother Paul, or too covered up like Frank's four children.

One thing I do know is that for as long as our lives intertwine like a million miles of telephone wire, we continue to communicate and connect with each other under the shadow of our Father in heaven. Even if everything really isn't fine or isn't exactly what it seems, we can still share a common love for each other amidst the conflicting differences.

Someone once said, "God doesn't have grandchildren." Parents can only participate in the greater plan that God has in store for them. Yet it’s hard to let go. We seem to somehow feel deeply responsible for the paths they have chosen to tread today. Every child born into this world will have to grow up and experience God directly on His terms. When it comes to our children, parents need to know that the Lord is in complete control of their lives and desires to become very real to them in an experiential way.

Ultimately, we must trust that God is in the process of shaping our lives, along with our loved ones, to fulfill the purposes He created us for. And so it is for those we love unconditionally. "Love," after all, "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things..." We can love our children completely without complete understanding.

All blessings this Christmas season,

Gicky Soriano

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Comments 19 comments

Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

I really like this hub. I have seen the movie "A River Runs Through It" and it is one of my favorites, although it is sad. I don't have grown children but I know that when I was in my 20s I was living a life of rebellion. All my mom knew to do for me was to pray. Her prayers were answered when I rededicated my life to Christ.

It is always good for us to remember in any and all circumstances that God really is in control.

Stan Alfonzo 6 years ago

Happy Holidays Pastor Gicky, once again great hub. Hope it's all good. As a parent we tried to act like God most of the times. We tend to forget that He's in control, thanks for the reminder. We missed you over here. Hope to see you soon.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

Cari Jean, Thank you the time you took to interact with me hub. It's all good when we leave it in God's sovereign hand. All blessings to you sister.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

Stan Alfonso, It's such a joy to remain in touch with you. I miss our brief times of fellowship back in the day. May we all learn to surrender our parental will to the Father who is sovereign over all His children. Convey my regards to your church as I covet your prayers for the church in my care. May you continue to experience Christ's abounding love and grace over you and your precious family.

heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

I know what you mean! There is so much we try to protect our children from in this world, yet they have to experience things for themselves..sooner or later? My prayer and my code of ethics has been, to raise them better than I was raised. Even with that, I still make mistakes. I am with you, I need God's help:) Thanks for sharing Gicky!

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Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

heart4theword, Thank you for your candid honesty. Although our hearts go out to our children, there are those moments when their decisions simply break our hearts. While we raised them the best way we know how, Lord help us to love them in light of Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." We may not be perfect parents, yet I'm thankful that we can raise our children through the wisdom of our Perfect Father in heaven.

bettybarnesb profile image

bettybarnesb 6 years ago from Bartlett, TN

Very beautiful story. I enjoyed reading it. Merry Christmas!

Chita Taylor 6 years ago

Good reflection, Gicky, and you express yourself so well. Love to the family and have a blessed Christmas.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

bettybarnesb, Thank you for your most encouraging comment. God bless you and your family this season.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

Dear Tita Chita, Thank you for dropping in on my website and leaving me an encouraging note. You were the perfect host last Thanksgiving and our family was blessed to celebrate the day with yours. May the Lord grant you and your loved ones countless blessings this joyous season.

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MBV1 6 years ago

My grandfather's grandfather, or rather one of them, was a well trained and warmly evangelical Calvinist minister to a Congregationalist church on the coast of Massachusetts for forty years in the midst of the 19th century.

My grandfather, this man's grandson as I understand it, never showed anything more than cultural recognition of some benefits to Christianity.

His children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren almost all went the way of New England spiritually--that is into anything but Christianity. How the faith of Jesus died out across these generation is a bit unclear to me, but once started, it seems devastating, save that all seem fine.

A recent book--sorry I don't remember the details--suggested that the recent mass attrition of church-going teenagers from the church by the time the children reach their 20s may have been caused in significant degree by the largely superficial level of faith in the parents (here we are talking primarily about the US). Small wonder then that the children leave the church altogether.

There are many levels at which our children may suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to parental grief, but loss of faith in Jesus surely must be the most significant long term, if we have eyes to see.

I was converted to Christ from atheism, and it has been my prayer and practice, so far as it lies in me, that my children should bear the torch of faith themselves. If I have limited power in that, I am grateful for encouraging signs toward that end despite failures and trials that seem part and parcel of life on earth.

We fathers, Paul says, bear particular responsibility to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Yet God has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills (Eph. 6:4, Rom. 9:18).

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 6 years ago from California Author

MBV1, I like the way you processed this hub in your own family's unique generational experience. Thank you for your engaging story. All blessings to you.

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great Hub,Thanks for the post

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks htodd.

Stan Alfonzo 5 years ago

Pastor, sorry but I just saw your comment and always thanks for everything and I sure will convey your regards. I have a very good news. I signed with Tate Music Group it's a Christian label, People can hear those songs that the Lord has given me thru ITunes, or different stores. I turned 50 then I got signed. Really nothing is impossible with the Lord. Hope to see you again someday.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 5 years ago from California Author

Congratulations Stan. So proud of you! Persistence does pay off in the power of the Spirit. I'm so glad to know that you are doing fine. Be blessed with the impossible made possible with God.

Stan Alfonzo 5 years ago

Thanks Pastor, can't wait to see you and listen to your sermon. God Bless.

Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 5 years ago from California Author

If you find yourself in the Bay Area, come by on Sunday for a visit. Better still, let me know in advance and I can arrange for you to render a song or two at our church.

Stan Alfonzo 4 years ago

That would be so great, the door and the favor of God is really opening up. I'm having the biggest concert of my life together with Ner De Leon on May 11, 2012 at Industry Expo Center, 600 capacities. Really there's no such thing as impossible. I would love to do that Pastor, I don't know if you have the same phone numver but I've got your email. We probably go up there this year. To God be all the glory, you send me a letter in regards about my song " Praise Our King, and I will never forget that, I make a copy of your letter and put it right next to my computer the last part of the letter you said" Be faithful in the little things" and witness how God will bless you in an awesome and unexpected way.

That letter became an inspiration to me and I took that letter by heart.....thanks for that letter, Pastor.

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