Monday, November 5, 2012

Jesus loves you but I'm undecided

Can I say goodbye to my old friend: apathy?

I often seem to think that somehow, some'why', Jesus will simply take my kids and make them superstars without any help from me. It is a comforting thought that they might turn out 'ok' in spite of my parenting failures.

I recently finished Jayber Crow by incredible (and incredibly underrated) author Wendell Berry. (Seriously, if you haven't read Berry, you need to. Start with his essays, then his fiction makes more sense.) In one scene, Jayber, the town barber, is discussing war with a client named Troy, who is not only ruining his father's farm but is married and unfaithful to Jayber's only love. Jayber's only response to Troy's invective is to quote Scripture: "Love your enemies..." Troy gives up his argument, and Jayber (who is also the narrator) concludes with: "It would have been a great moment for Christianity except that I did not love Troy."

This discussion highlighted, for me, the ways in which what we know actually enables us to behave as if we did not know it. I mean, my daughter knows me better than just about anyone. I can't even get a joke past her because she says: "Dad, that's your joking voice," or "your eyes are smiling". If she doesn't miss that, she certainly can tell when I am less than present.

With kids it is really not a matter of whether or not we love our kids: it is a matter of how consistently we love them as much as or more than ourselves.

Working as the director of a Presbyterian camp this summer I realized how often I let my kids down. Don't get me wrong: working at camp was amazing for us as individuals, for our family, and for me professionally. But how many times did I put my kids in second or third place? How many times could I have included one or both of them in some activity but thought it would be easier to leave them at the lodge with a movie?

I guess the whole point is that we often like to remind ourselves that love is a verb, but then we live as if it is some static reality that exists whether or not we act it into being. What, however, does that look like?

To be continued...

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