Sunday, December 21, 2014

Repost: On Loving Isaiah

Every other week my blog will feature a reposted work. I had been a contributor on two different sites that have since closed or no longer include blogs. I will be reposting pieces that had originally been featured on one of these two sites.  

This was originally posted May 4, 2011

While in my MA program I learned about Bernard of Clairvaux and his work On Loving God.  It seems that we start our journey in the faith loving God for our own sake, then we grow a little and maybe we learn to love God for God’s sake.  According to Bernard of Clairvaux, the final stage is loving self for the sake of God.  I have a long way to go on that journey. 

I’m not even very far on something a little more tangible: my journey of loving my son, Isaiah, as he ought to be loved. 

I found myself noticing my motivations in my actions towards him recently.  I was playing with him but I really wanted to be quietly sipping coffee and reading my book or even taking a nap.  I wanted to play with him out of duty so he would grow up healthy and have a good “God concept”.  I wanted to play with him so that he’d be tired later and I’d have more time to myself.  I wanted to play with him to make sure he didn’t make too much of a mess.  I wanted to play with him so I’d have an excuse for not doing the dishes while my wife was gone.  I wanted to play with him so he’d like me.  I wanted to play with him so I could feel like I was a good father; to feel like I am a good man. 

My actions were for selfish reasons.  I was playing with him for my sake.  I was loving him for my sake.  I felt a little disgusted at myself; but mostly I felt sad. 

What kind of a father am I if I only try to appear to be a good father?
Is there honor in an action that is done out of duty and not joy or love?
What hope does my son have if I’m not attentive to him when he’s little and [really] cute?

How many of my true motivations are righteous and pure?
How many other people do I interact with for the sake of myself?  My wife?  My friends?

Am I even close to loving God for the sake of God?

I think it is a spiritual discipline to keep playing with my son for all the wrong reasons while being open to myself that my motivations are distorted at best; I need to be willing to be open to him about these motivations when he is a man and mature enough for that degree of openness.

How would our father/son relationship change and mature if I could be open with myself and him as I love him from the inadequacy of my soul? 

Something like: 
"I love you, but I am a selfish man. I'm trying to love you better." 

And Beyond
So maybe, in general, it is a spiritual discipline to do the right thing for the wrong reason while being open and attentive to self and others about the wrestling with reasons and motivations. 

How would this discipline change my other relationships and human interactions?
What would that approach, that discipline, mean for my relationships with everyone else?

What does that mean for my relationship with God?

What would it mean for your relationships?

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