Be a Beloved Son or Daughter
Too often we go through life trying to accomplish and achieve and refusing to receive from another. I have been there. In regard to this whole infertility trial, once a priest told me that "perhaps God wants you to ask for a child." In other words, he was using simple language to gently suggest that God wants me to learn receptivity in this whole ordeal and that I had in fact hitherto not been receptive enough. Guilty as charged. Also, I bought into the culture's mores. Our culture hates receptivity because it bespeaks dependence and dependence means weakness. You're weak, like a child, if you are dependent. Adults go through their entire lives believing this lie, not realizing that our true freedom is actually receiving everything from the hand of God. This point was hit home to me recently by another incident with a priest.
I was sitting in the confessional crying my heart out to a priest one day. My sins all revolved around infertility and the mess it has made in my soul. In particular, I confessed that I was not poor of spirit but greedy. I wanted to be a father so badly rather than accept what God was giving me currently. That priest looked my in the eye, forgave me, and said for your penance I want you to meditate for five minutes upon the fact that you are a beloved son of God. He also mentioned to me that in order to be a good father in the world you must first be a son. Many fathers go their entire lives without realizing this truth and on their deathbed they have tremendous regrets. You have been given a grace to recognize the importance of sonship that is necessary for fatherhood. For a good father gives everything he has received first as a son of God. Wow - phew! This hit me like a ton of bricks. I have something to do to be a good father and I was completely missing it. But wait there is more to this story of grace.
He recommended a book – A Father's Tale by Michael O'Brien. He suggested this book because the main protagonist is a father who comes to learn this important truth about receptivity and total abandonment to God – in short, sonship. So throughout the book the drama is his slow realization of how important it is to be a good son in order to be a good father. Now what is amazing about this recommendation is that as Father was suggesting this book, my jaw dropped because I was in fact in the middle of reading this book! Coincidence? I think not. It was grace. What is more crazy is that as I had been reading it, I thought that much didn't apply to me because “I wasn't a father!” Wow. How blind I was! After Father said what the book was about it instantly resonated with me. Yes, he is a hundred percent right in his reading and I was a fool to not realize this truth. But the bigger point was that I had forgotten to be a son and what applies here applies to his daughters too.
We need to live from the core of who we are: beloved sons and daughters of God. Do we know we are beloved sons and daughters of God? Moreover, to live from this core dignity of who we are we need to develop virtue and get out of destructive habits. In regard to destructive habits, we need to fight and simply run away from self-pity, self-hatred, escapisms (food, buying, alcohol, sex), fear, the entitlement mentality, and focusing on defects, failures, past sins or disappointments except where necessary in order to grow in virtue. If you want happiness, then get away from these things right away! Resolve to stay far far away! But to do this staying away we need to cultivate the opposite of these things – virtue.
In regard to developing virtue, try to find your root sin and to cultivate its opposite virtue. Right now my root sin is sensuality, which is placing some created reality other than personal relationships and achievements ahead of God. If I placed achievements ahead of God then this would be pride. If I placed some aspect of personal relationships (like affirmation and praise from others) ahead of God, then this wold be vanity. In reality, we all struggle with all three of these things. But we all struggle with one of these three more than the others. For me it is sensuality, placing a thing of God – a child – ahead of God in my life. It is not wrong to desire a child, of course, but I have let this desire and sadness about not receiving a child be put ahead of what God wants to give me and to do in my life in a number of ways (too many to go into). So the opposite of this sin is being poor of spirit, which for me means consciously receiving everything that happens to me in my life from God as a good gift. In order to accomplish this virtue, I then made a list of several things I was going to do to cultivate this virtue. By cultivating this virtue I am living in the sonship God wants for me. I pray I can continue this faithful sonship.
Next: Let Your Suffering Be Fruitful