Universalis, About this blog

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Thought on Family

Some truths run in parallel, and this is no exception. The health of a family member impacts the rest of the family, too. For example, my family is plagued by a cold right now. Everyone except my eldest son, at the moment. My youngest couldn't sleep through the night because of it, and neither could my wife, as a consequence. We didn't all catch it at once, and it is likely that one caught it first, and it was caught by another, and so on. The parallel truth here is how one's moral health -- our ability to discern what is right from what is wrong, and acting accordingly -- also bears an impact on the rest of the family. Most striking is when the individual whose health is in question is the parent. Just as good health proceeds from the parent -- notably the mother, from whom the milk and the first antibodies come from -- so, too, does good moral character. I cringe at the thought of post-modern parents who choose to be ambiguous about the Christian upbringing of their children, as if the Christian faith will one day simply fall like a comet upon their children when they are "old enough." But more than that, I tremble at the thought of what my poor health is causing my family. As far as my physical health is concerned, my excessive nighttime jaunts in the world of MMORPG (massively multi-player online roleplaying games) means lack of sleep. Lack of sleep affects my temperament, the store of patience I need with my children, and the energy I need to care for them, my wife, even our home and our car. It even affects my ability to function at 100% at work, so that I could be jeopardizing our source of income. As far as my moral health is concerned, let's just look at the same thing as an example. The Psalmist says "my sin is ever before me," and I thank God for the grace to be able to recognize the same thing. When I tell my children that it is time for bed, that there is a time for play and a time for sleep, I am painfully aware of my hypocrisy. But that hypocrisy is not just between me and my God. There are rare times when one of my kids do catch me still on the computer at 1 AM, 2 AM, and that obviously confuses them should they have the mind to look at the clock and recall what I said earlier about bedtime. Those are just the many lapses pertaining to my own bedtime. What about lapses in keeping my temper in check?
When I think about it, parenthood scares me spitless, but it also humbles me to think that God would grant me this awesome responsibility -- to raise up children. But there is no need for despair, because God is reasonable and wise. Looking at my physical surroundings and even my own body, one has to admit that we who are given life are given the means to maintain it and to thrive in it. So, too, does he provide us with the means to maintain and thrive in a moral life. In the first place, we have our conscience and our reason. Second, he gives us his Son, by whose grace we are justified and made partakers of his divine life -- what we call a state of sanctifying grace. And this state of grace is of itself nourishing, the means by which we can grow in holiness, provided we do nothing to compromise it. As for that, if we think of sanctifying grace as oxygen, we compromise it by refusing to breathe, or by strangling ourselves or by wrapping our heads with a plastic bag.
So there is reason to hope, too, because the grace of God is more than sufficient, always. But it still scares me spitless, sometimes. But it's a good thing to be in-between those two: the hope and the fear and trembling.

No comments: