Updated: Jul 3, 2020
I was born in an Adventist Christian household and had the privilege of studying at the famous Spicer Memorial College (now University) in India. The institution was heavily influenced by American culture due to its American connections and the many lecturers who hailed from the USA. As you went through the institution, you could not help but develop an inexplicable desire to one day visit the States. In fact, many local intellectuals, as well as religious leaders, affiliated with the institution, would either retire to the States or go over for employment opportunities.
My journey brought me over to the United Kingdom, but that dream of visiting States had not gone away. Well, in 2001, the dream would finally come to fruition.One late evening, we landed at the JFK airport in New York. This was the last flight of the evening into the city. We were really excited to have landed in the land of opportunities. We had arranged to be picked up by a relative, and we were eagerly looking through the crowd for them. One by one, each fellow traveller left the airport as they were picked up by those who came to receive them. The automated airport lights soon began to dim as the Arrivals waiting area became deserted. Our relatives were still nowhere in sight. Around 1 a.m. in the morning, we were ordered to leave the airport. However, after explaining our situation, we were told to seat by the entrance. Our predicament was whether to hire a yellow cab and check into a hotel, or continue to wait for our relatives who were still on their way to pick us up.
A place which I had always wanted to visit suddenly began to feel strange as we were stuck in a vast airport with no one to go to. A sense of apprehension, coupled with underlying disappointment, began to creep into our minds. Conversely, we were also getting worried about the safety of our relatives. What had happened to them? Where had they gone?
Have you ever felt neglected, unwanted or rejected? You may have had high expectations, a kind of adrenaline rush through your system, and then have it all come to nothing. Neglect is a real issue that many in society face today. We see parents being moved to old age homes. We see domestic quarrels separate spouses and children as a loving family unit turns into a desolate jungle, where no one cares for another’s welfare.
Well, our relatives did eventually arrive in the early hours of the morning (around 4 a.m.). They found us half asleep on the benches with our four little children. Our anxiety turned to relief, exuberance, and the excitement instantly returned. We soon forgot our wretched experience. Repeated apologies from relatives calmed us down, settled the nerves, and the frustration soon evaporated.
Do not give up on those you are waiting for. But remember when they do arrive, do not confront them unnecessarily with selfish, self-centred questions or police-like interrogation. Be patient, and try to understand their perspective. Delaware University (2020) notes that, ‘Strong families have open lines of communication -- where all family members feel heard and respected. One of the best ways to strengthen your family is to increase your listening skills and those of other family members. Until we can hear each other, we cannot build strong relationships’.
Conflicts are all around us – no one is immune – it’s a natural part of human relationships. Strong families are able to work through things they disagree about by focusing on solutions, rather than by tearing each other down.
“Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13