Sunday, August 2, 2009

So who is the real three year old?

"In fact, I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. Although I don't do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good." Romans 7:15-16 (Contemporary English Version)

My oldest son is newly three, and has been channeling these verses an exasperating number of times each day. His misbehavior six to nine months ago was easier to deal with for a lot of reasons, but I think his language development is part of what makes it harder. I mean, the boy is talking in paragraphs now, so I tend to act like he must also have a richly developed inner dialogue going on, that his conscience is clearly telling him what’s right and wrong. So whereas when two year old KB was tough to deal with, I tended to think, “well, he’s still a baby.”, but now each moment he, with apparent forethought, disobeys, it feels like a personal affront toward me or Rosey. But I know that’s not right. He’s not near the age of reason, and the task of forming that conscience is just beginning and will be more arduous than it was teaching him the alphabet and counting to twenty.

But still, several times I’ve found myself thinking: “KB, why don’t you just TRUST me! I know your still a little boy, but even if the subtleties of moral theology are lost on you, or you’ve never given any thought to the natural law reasons why jumping on your little brother is wrong, or quite know what it means To Honor Your Father and Mother and why that’s actually really important, wouldn’t it still makes sense to, you know, LISTEN to us?? Look what we’ve given you kiddo! We’ve loved you from the moment we knew of your existence, we prayed for you and prepared for you. We’ve given you a warm home, nourishment, toys climbing the walls! We’ve given you most everything you’ve asked for, and so many things you didn’t even know you wanted or needed, and it has all redounded to your good, has it not? Remember your fear last summer at the lake? But you let me hold you and you were safe AND had fun? Don’t you feel loved by us every day in our words and hugs and kisses? Don’t you see we would do anything for you? Do you think we would ever do anything to hurt you? Isn’t there enough evidence for you to know we seek only your good? And heck, failing all that, we’ve just been around a heck of a lot longer than you. We know how things work and how they don’t. You have a lot to learn, so for pete’s sake just let us be in charge!!!”

Oh. Sweet. Merciful. Crap! The loving 2x4 of spiritual insight gives quite a welt on the head: I’m constantly acting like a three year old before my own Father in Heaven. At best:

“Brian, why don’t you just TRUST me! I know you live with the mark of Adam, but I’ve given you an intellect to understand quite a bit of moral theology, and I went ahead and wrote the law on your heart, and if that seemed muddy I put it on tablets, and then summed it up in two sentences in case that seemed too long! And yet you ignore it, a lot more than seven times daily. Why? Look what I’ve given you! Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and loved you. I’ve given you a powerful heavenly being to constantly watch over you for all your earthly existence and eternally thereafter, and prepared the hearts of your parents to receive you and teach you and to cooperate with me. I gave you legs to walk, eyes to see, ears to hear! I’ve given you most everything you’ve asked for and many things you didn’t know you wanted or needed, and it has all redounded to your good, has it not? Remember that time where I asked you to take that step, and you were scared, but you trusted me and let me walk with you, and it led you to so many blessings, to what you hold most dear? Don’t you feel loved by me every day in Word and Sacrament? Don’t you know I’ve done everything for you; I’ve given my life away? Do you think I would ever do anything to hurt you? Isn’t there enough evidence for you to know I seek only your good, your True Good, not the counterfeits you are always seeking? And heck, failing all that, I’m GOD, and I’ve been around a heck of a lot longer than you. I know how things work since I made them. You haven’t. You have a lot to learn, so for pete’s sake just let Me be in charge!!!”

I’ll try, Lord. I’ll try. But the thing is … I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. Although I don't do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good.

St. Paul… Pray for us.

Immaculate Heart of Mary… Pray for us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus… Have Mercy on us.

3 comments:

Robert said...

Nice post - it's been a while!

On a related note, my children have lately grown a well-developed sense of how put-upon they are and how onerous are the many things that they must do, such as brushing their teeth and putting away their toys. I find this really irritating, even while understanding that your God-parent analogy is completely apposite.

And Michael has developed the wonderful habit of doing everything as slowly as possible. IOW, I know you won't punish me the first time, Dad, so the first time I can ignore you...

Barb Bristol said...

This is awesome, Brian. Gave me a lot to think about - about my role as a mom, a step-mom, a mom-mom. About my spiritual journey. I am still a work-in-progress, that's for sure. I love you! Aunt Barb

Brian said...

Very nice reflection ND blog.

Mine are all grown up - but you bring back memories.

God bless!