By Frank Fain
The Baptist Home Senior Specialist
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3: 12-14, NIV).
A tombstone inscription is a testimony of a person's life priorities. We never see a tombstone with the inscription "I wish I had spent more time at work."
We do see the inscriptions "Beloved Father," "Caring Mother," "A Loving Parent" and "A Wonderful Sibling."
Regretfully, while we are pursuing our occupation, often our work does become our priority. As a result we neglect our family, thus weakening connections with our siblings and children.
Retirement as life's Sabbath provides us time to deepen our connections with our siblings, children and grandchildren.
In order to do so, we must make these relationships our life's priority. This may require that we follow Paul's advice to adjust our attitudes by dressing in God's wardrobe of "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
To deepen our connections, we may need to resolve some long-standing conflicts with one or more family members. Forgiving whatever grievance you may have against another is essential to attain true conflict resolution.
It has been a blessing during my ministry to see retired siblings investing the time and energy to resolve long-standing conflicts and renew deep relationships.
In like manner, I have also seen some serious parent/child estrangements end when retirement affords the parent the time to reconnect with that child.
In all these cases, forgiving past wrongs and grievances was a major element in the relationship renewal.
Retirement also gives one the time to remember with siblings family stories and traditions. These "walks down memory lane" provide an opportunity for us to reconnect with our family heritage and values.
Retirement also affords us the time to pass along these remembered family stories and values to our children and grandchildren.
For some, retirement is a time to write a memoir or do family genealogical research.
These efforts become treasured gifts to children or grandchildren.
For some Christians, retirement has provided time to write a spiritual genealogy.
A spiritual genealogy is an opportunity to share the events, influences and people involved in your Christian conversion and spiritual growth.
It also gives you the chance to record what is known about your parents, grandparents and extend family members' faith experiences.
This type of genealogy is a testimony to children and grandchildren of how God has made you the person you are and how He has been an active influence in your family throughout history. It also provides you and them a sense of belonging to an eternal and everlasting family.
Retirement gives us the opportunity to celebrate family relationships by allowing us the time to attend family member's birthday, graduation, wedding and other memorable life celebrations.
In short, retirement gives us many opportunities to just spend time with our family if we take advantage of them.
Whether you are a new or experienced retiree, let me encourage you to make a New Year's resolution to deepen your connections with your siblings, children and grandchildren during 2007.
This may be the best retirement investment you ever make.