Saturday, March 17, 2012

All Things Work For Good

How's my mental health today?

This surprisingly early warm and sunny spring weather certainly gives me a boost.

As I've mentioned before, my time is currently spent juggling 6 major projects, one of which is digitizing a stack of old LPs. The ones I'm working on first are from Heidi's parents (I'm burning the music onto CDs for them). The heritage that Heidi and I share has been an ongoing revelation for us. It is remarkable was how much similarity Heidi and I find in the things we grew up with, including music. This became especially apparent with my conversion of the first 7 or 8 records we got from Heidi's parents. They were recordings of German hymns, Folkmusic, children's songs and classical choral works. Almost all of the music from my in-laws albums was familiar to me; it was the same music that I had heard and sung in my parents' home and at church when I was growing up.

Heidi grew up in the Catholic church in a rural German community north of Winnipeg. Her father immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1953. Heidi's mother is first generation Canadian, but her roots lie in Germany too. My father, who grew up in Mennonite communities in the former West Prussia (now part of Poland), came to Canada in 1952. My mother, who was born in a Lutheran community in East Frisia (Northwestern part of Germany) came to Canada in 1953 and joined the Mennonite church after she and my father got married. 

The worlds of Catholics and Mennonites as we used to know them were separated by a vast, seemingly unbridgeable gulf. Since Heidi and I have been together, that gulf has almost completely vanished for us. Although we have some minor differences when it comes to matters of faith, we continue to be surprised at how much we have in common

We both grew up speaking only German at home and neither of us spoke or understood a word of English when we started school. We both have many relatives still living in Germany. Both of us have spent some time living in Germany in our early adulthood. We share common experiences and values. We both still understand and speak German. Heidi still reacts (occasionally quite startled) when I utter a German phrase that she remembers from her childhood.

Every once in a while our conversation will drift to what might have happened had we met twenty years earlier. It is a very pleasant dream to imagine having had twenty more years together. What might our lives have been like? We love our kids (from our first marriages) very much, but Heidi occasionally mentions how she wished the two of us could have had children together too.

Our relationship is blessed by the things we have in common; our faith, our cultural background, our first language, our values, and our musical heritage, our love of reading, and so much more.

The wistful dreams of what might of been, are only that. We are who we are because of our separate personal journeys along vastly different roads until our broken first marriages and our personal walks through the darkness of mental illness brought our paths together.

I believe it is the common experiences of overcoming pain and struggle that enriches our love for one another, our mutual respect, our marriage, our faith, and our hopes for the future.

Both of us went through times of screaming to God, "WHY?"

We have our answer now.

All things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose. 
Romans 8:28

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