Are You Keepin’ It Classy?

Funny how the things you did when you were younger come back to you in the form of your kids. Not funny in a “ha ha” kind of way, but more in a “Oh, this is what I was like” kind of way.  Our oldest is on the verge of the teen years, almost halfway through the tweens, and already the attitude that we all know and despise is in full force. Yes I’ve heard myself say the exact words and phrases I told myself I would never use. Hearing them as they come out, making me more frustrated. But, apparently, this is parenthood, or at least one very small poriton of it. Our youngest learned to swim completely on her own in the wavy ocean last week and read her very first word to us the other day. That is another part of parenthood. Both come together.
In conversations the past month or so, I’ve used the phrase “please act your age” more times than I count. Then there are the other variations of it, “I expect you to act like a 10 year old, not a six year old,” or “you are not an adult, however, if you’d like to be I can give you all of my responsibilities-paying the bills, working, cooking, cleaning,” etc. Oh, the trials and joys of parenting (and teaching :).
It’s amazing how often there are situations with our kids that are a result of someone acting not the age they are, or behaving in a way in which they know is appropriate, just because they are jealous, angry or prideful. What’s more interesting, or sad perhaps, is when we as adults do the same thing. I can only really speak for myself, but I have been known to act childish when I haven’t gotten my way or when I’m angry. Bickering, name calling, or simply that small satisfactory grin when someone else “really gets what they had coming to them.” We can view the world very much like survival of the fittest when we are in the depths of our envy and pride. I know I am when I go there which I pray happens less and less as I get older.
The other day, I was reading one of the writings of Brenard of Clarivaux, a Christian mystic of the Cistercian Order (1090-1153). I enjoy reading the mystics, able to tell the truths of Christ usually from far different perspectives than my own. I also resonate with their ability to find the sacred things of God in the secular world, something almost foreign today in Western Society.

“For man, being in honor, if he know not his own honor, may fitly be compared, because of such ignorance, to the beasts that perish. Not knowing himself as the creature that is distinguished form the irrational brutes by the possession of reason, he commences to be confounded with them because, ignorant of his own true glory which is within, he is led captive by his curiosity, and concerns himself with external, sensual things.” (his book “On Loving God”) He goes on to write that the glory we have within, Christ Jesus, is unlike anything else in this world or cosmos.

I sat on that for a while, reflecting on it and trying to think, what really does set us apart from the animal beasts he mentions. Ya, we have reason, ok, that’s true. But what else do we have, what else makes us different. Given the state of politics and “debates” if we can even still call them that, I really do wonder what is it that make humans different than animals. Do we have honor as Brenard stated so many centuries ago?

Are we different?

As I was sitting after another bout of “please act your age” conversations, 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

I cannot expect, nor should I, that all of humankind will act in such a way that they are a chosen, holy people, because they aren’t. Only those who have come to understand how humble we really are and entered into formative relationship with Christ can be considered a chosen people. Not for our glory to become bigger in mans eyes, but to proclaim the praises of a God who could do things we cannot begin to understand. If I remembered this daily, maybe I wouldn’t become so childish when I don’t get my way, get what I believe is entitled to me or throw my pride around like nobody’s business. I don’t think, this side of heaven, we will fully understand how much of a great privilege it is to be called holy even though we are not.  No matter what happens in the future or even just today, we I simply need to remember that I am chosen. If I can do that, perhaps I can help others understand that they are chosen as well. Giving grace, not judgement. I pray the same for all of us this day, fellow priests.

Have you had an experience similar to this? What was the result? What did you do when who you really are in Christ’s eyes came to your mind?

be blessed today

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