I enjoy reading biographies and love hearing the life stories of others. The twists and turns that lives take are always fascinating to hear about. It’s also interesting and often instructive to hear how people process their experiences.
I’ve found the “life reports” that older people have sent to David Brooks to be endlessly fascinating. I’m grateful, too, for the comments that people left in answer to my question of why they have remained in the Christian faith.
I’m struck by the recurring fundamental importance of family. Our relationships with our parents are pivotal in our following along with their faith and then embracing it as our own.
In the life stories, family relationships are a constant theme. Old people (these are stories written by people in their 70’s) dwell at length on early difficult relationships with parents. It’s amazing how these often have greater shaping influence than later experiences.
There are regrets over broken marriages, relationships sacrificed in the name of careers, people alienated from their adult children and grandchildren.
Family relationships mark and shape us profoundly. Career success doesn’t fill holes left by those broken relationships.
As my dad said to me a few weeks ago, “nobody ever says on their death-bed, ‘I wish I would have worked more.’”
There’s so much more to say about passing on the faith and living life well. But if you’ve been blessed with parents who inhabited the faith authentically, give thanks. And consider how you can live in such a way that when you’re 70 you can look back with satisfaction and without any relational regrets.