The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.”
I am living the sandwich generation. My week involves helping keep my in-laws in their home, sprinkled with opportunities to help with our grandchildren. This is not a bad place to be. It is where I am.
About 15 years ago, I lived overseas as a missionary for a year in Kazakstan and taught English at a university. As part of the former Soviet Union, the people struggled with how to embrace western culture after living under socialism for generations. One thing stood out to me: their understanding of family. While most Americans say family is the top of their priority list, how we live it is different from my experience in Kazakstan. Often three generations lived together in a two-bedroom flat the size of your living room and kitchen. In this space, parents lived with their parents and children, sometimes even a fourth generation.
These families wanted their teenaged/young adult children to study English with a native speaker. I’m not sure how some families came up with the $30/month the University charged. But they did.
Most students were flabbergasted that as a single person, I lived in an apartment alone and drove my own car. One male student asked me, “How does your Dad fix your car when you live so far away?” The student couldn’t understand why my Dad had not taken care of my car for years.
I have thought of Kazak families these last weeks. Grandparents often did not work to provide childcare for their grandchildren. Individuals set aside personal desires so a younger generation could have new opportunities. I wonder if their views of family have changed since I was there.
Don’t get me wrong. Many American families work hard to have connected families. Parents and grandparents go above and beyond to help. I am not the only person experiencing being a sandwich. I thank God when I see people choosing to be sandwiched.
Isn’t God the ultimate sandwich generation? God intentionally choose to be the connecting point between generations. This helps me see how I fit into the larger picture of God’s family that precedes me by thousands of years and may live beyond my lifetime. My role is to honor, represent and model God’s presence in my daily life for those older and younger. I will not always live right, but I try to have glimpses of righteousness in my daily actions.
Sometimes, I bemoan that many things I had hoped to get done by now aren’t started. Being the sandwich generation is more important than those projects. There is always winter.
Throughout history, Lord God, you are the thread that connects one generation to the next. May we live our lives in such a way that we honor you in our actions, words and deeds. May we seek to make your righteousness part of our families from one generation to the next. Amen.
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