Monday, July 21, 2008

Pondering parenting and such things

I cannot help as a newly married man to occasionally ponder about parenting. While I am not yet expecting, I do not think it is ever to early to think about such eventualities.

Last night I was having a conversation with my wife about this topic because it dawned on me that having and raising children will show me all of my flaws and weaknesses. In more than one way - I will have to confront my selfishness and laziness, but more so, my children will do whatever I do. I will be teaching them what is acceptable or not by how I act - all the time. How I treat my wife, how I treat guests, how I treat anyone. They will be watching and storing all in their little heads. Then when it comes time for them to act, they will be mini-me's doing all the things that I do - good or bad. I will see my flaws and weaknesses come to life - but taken to the extreme - as children are so great at doing. My behavior will be under the microscope of my children.

So what will they learn? What will I teach them? Will I make an effort to act (or not to act) certain ways, or will I just simply "be myself" and let happen whatever happens? Will I make an effort to change for the sake of the kingdom of God, or have I grown to tolerate my own behavior? The scary thing to me, is that I am sure that I am blind to many of my faults and bad behaviors. I do not doubt that my children will shock me as they imitate their father. I'm sure I will find myself asking my wife, "Do I really do that? Do I really say those things? Am I really like that?", followed by, "Heaven help me! Give me the grace to see my faults and the courage to change my ways!"

Ooooh, I can't wait to have kids... (note the dripping sarcasm). Really, I'm sure there is a grace for raising children and for changing my ways. I'm sure the joy of having children will outweigh the pains of dying to my old selfish ways. (I hope).

This bring me to my other point. What is my vision for raising children? I get closer to that answer every day, but I believe that it have something to do with creating a "domestic church." That is, a place where the Trinity is mirrored in all its glory. A place where like the Pope, I am the head of the family and I am responsible for the spiritual (and physical) well-being of everyone under my care. Like the Pope has the cardinals and bishops, I have help carrying out my duties of caring for my flock. I must make sure that my flock receives the Good News about the kingdom. I must make sure that my flock has the opportunity to encounter Christ. I must be Christ to my family - I must, with my wife (since we are really one), be the image of God to my children - showing them God's love and mercy. But I must also, in the appropriate time, respect their free will. I must teach them the boundaries given to us by God and then let them freely choose to love God of their own volition. As God let me stray for a time so that I could be stronger, I must be able to let go of my parenting instincts of protection and pray that I will see my children in heaven.

I have a lot to work on until that day. So let the games begin! My I run the race as if to win!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Marriage and other things

I recently got married and must say first off that it is a huge blessing! It is also a lot of work!

I was commenting to several people that as a single man I thought I was doing fairly well in my walk with God. I have been blessed to have had intense adult formation over the last 12 years and have finally realized what it means to truly be a "Man of God." I thought that I had 'my house' in fairly good order and that I knew what my strengths and weaknesses were. My formal formation had come to an end a few years ago and I thought I had died to my flesh in a great many ways and was well on my way to holiness. Then I married - and I now realize that my young adult formation was a mere stepping stone, a foundation, for my "real" formation which comes through married life. I have realized that I only had a shadow of what it means to truly love someone. I now know that I know very little and have such a long way to go in learning how to love someone as the Lord loves them. I am a mere infant when it comes to love.

My recent reflections as I have begun my permanent vocation have been along these lines: What is married life for? What is the purpose of marriage? Why have I decided to do this? Am I really embracing these ideas and trying to live them out?

Marriage as a vocation is a path to sanctity. It is meant to bring us closer to God by living out a life that mirrors the triune God. Marriage is where we learn to give over our own desires and pursuits in service of the other for the greater glory of God. It is where we learn to love others and God loves us. It is where we have the opportunity to empty ourselves fully so that we may be filled with Christ and where we learn to be true instruments of the Lord. It is where we become what God has made us to become - images of Himself.

I have chosen this vocation? Yes and No. Yes: In freedom I made a conscious act of the will to enter into this covenant. I said "Yes" to my wife and to God. No: God chose this vocation for me before the world began by making me as He did. I was answering the Lord's call. I was made for this vocation, in order to become the man God wants me to become. The vocation chose me, and I likewise chose it as well.

I am trying to live this great calling. It is overwhelming, especially at first, but I am giving it my full attention and effort. I fully understand that this is a journey and not a destination, and I am as prepared as I can be to keep moving forward, even in the face of difficulty and adversity. I do not know how this will all unfold, but I do know that a great price awaits me in the end.