The Hidden Temptation

Temptation

I am working on a personal project which is leading me in all sorts of directions. Last night it led me to the following quote, which I really liked it, so I now pass it on to you. I’ve bolded certain terms that I found particularly poignant.

The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: “Apart from me, you can do nothing”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2732)

In the morning when I get up, I have almost unlimited options of what I can do or focus on. What does my heart seek in the morning? Does it seek the Lord, or seek television. And if I seek the Lord do I only do so when I feel I need help, presuming that God will help me?

The CCC further points out that presumption can flow both ways:

There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit) (2092)

Somewhere between those two is a proper approach to the Lord. 

Who is Marriage For? A Commentary

Quote Fulton J Sheen love is a mutual self giving which ends 39750

This article has been making the rounds lately, telling the tale of husband who finally realized that marriage isn’t about him, it’s about his wife; that marriage is about the other. A friend of mine asked me to comment on it privately, but I thought I’d post my thoughts her for interests sake. It’s always flattering when someone asks you for your opinion in a genuine way. She asked me because I am married and “deep thinker” (she doesn’t know me that well).

In general I like the theme of the article which is to say that, in a healthy marriage, it’s not about us, but about the other person; what we call “Mutual Self Giving (or gifting)”.

If you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding you’ve very likely heard 1 Corinthian 13 :4-7 read out:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Put all those things together and you have what the author sums up as being unselfish. I am in my marriage to offer myself to my wife. To contribute my energy, passions, and talents to our marriage so we can be as strong and united as possible, so that together we can give to the world around us. As a unit we help each other improve, move towards our unified and separate goals, and just plain get through the day.

If, however, someone understands what is written as “door mat”, then that is missing what he is trying to communicate. I do not give myself to my wife to my detriment. I give myself to her, knowing that she would never knowingly allow me to cause myself harm through serving her. I do however acknowledge that there is sacrifice. As an example, I no longer have the freedom to randomly have dinner with a women she doesn’t know or assent to.

Again, the assumption of self-giving is that you are operating in a healthy marriage where both people are self-giving.

One of my closest friends is a women who is in an bad situation with her marriage. Her husband is a good guy overall, but he has major issues for which is requires counselling or they will likely not make it to their second anniversary. She is being incredibly brave by showing love to her husband and serving him as best she can, while receiving much less then she should from him. But, she only goes so far because there is an imbalance in their marriage. He is not serving her as he should because he won’t get the help he needs. The longer it goes on, the more she will withdraw to protect herself. But, this is a byproduct of a marriage that is not functioning properly.

The problem is that many people today, thinking they need to protect themselves from the get go, “just in case”, end up causing the demise of their marriage because they build up so many walls from the beginning that they crumble at the thought of being too exposed or vulnerable.

As an example: My wife and I have joint bank accounts and all our income goes into those accounts, there is no way for us to hide that money. We, together, make decisions on how to spend, save and give “our” money. We have to take each others views into account and come up with a budget we can both agree on. As opposed to one women I used to work with who was convinced that a married women should steadily hide money for 10 years “just in case”. Then if she’s still married (unlikely) she should surprise her husband with a really nice anniversary gift. Ultimately, this self protection, is exposed for selfishness born out of fear and the women who does that can never completely give herself to her marriage because she’s hiding part of herself from it out of fear.

One other misunderstand that could arise from the article is that someone could think he’s saying that the husband is completely responsible for the happiness of the wife and vice-versa. This is incorrect and I don’t think it’s what the author had in mind.

I want my wife to be happy, more then anything and it hurts when she’s not. The goes for close friends. None of us want to see people hurt, but there’s not always anything we can do about it. When my wife’s mother was dying of cancer last year, she certainly wasn’t happy and there was nothing I could do about it. But, I could comfort her, do extra chores, etc, to make it easier for her. I wanted her to be happy more than anything, to smile again, to laugh again, but it wasn’t going to happen for a while. But, I could sacrifice my time, my energy, my emotions, for her, to make things a bit easier.

As much as my wife seeks to make me happy, she isn’t responsible for my happiness. God help her if she was. Not with my mood swings, lol.

See, if I give myself to my wife and she reciprocates and if we know we can trust each others reputations with each other, then I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be taken advantage of. Other women don’t have to wonder if I’m happily married, because I talk about my wife all the freaking time (in positive ways) and this makes me either a challenge or not a target for those who may wish to seduce me into an affair (I’m not arrogant enough to think anyone wants to seduce me, but I’m not taking chances with my marriage). It’s about trust. That’s why something like an affair (whether it be purely sexual or not) is so damaging to the fabric of a marriage; trust has been broken in a most profound way.

Now, without becoming too personal, think about the marital act (ahem, sexual intercourse). It’s the very definition of self giving. If a husband has sex with his wife solely for his own pleasure then that’s wrong. They are there to offer themselves to each other, to yes, make each other feel good – to offer that to their spouse. But, of course, it’s not just the physical pleasure and its certainly not just about the orgasm. It’s about the ultimate expression of vulnerability and trust, the desire to create new life, the deep emotional connection and bond that is created.

Just to be clear sexual desire and sexual pleasure are in themselves good and there is nothing wrong with them. It’s when they become lust that we see problems. Lust is selfish, it is the plagiarisation of desire. “Desire” in a negative sense arises when a man or women fails to see the full attractiveness of the other person and reduces it to the attractiveness of sexual pleasure alone. [1]

“In lustful desire, one seeks the other person in a reductive way as a mere means for sexual pleasure. There are just an instrument. This is contrary to the full dignity and beauty of the person.” [2]

————————————————————-————————————————————-

[1] Man and Women he Created Them: A Theology of the Body, John Paul II. p. 225

[2] ibid. footnote

Shopping backwards

Shopping

It was so backwards. It’s my birthday today, #36. I received some cash and cheques. I have a list I keep of things I might buy if and when I have cash that isn’t particularly assigned to anything. At point I realized I thought “Oh, I should just go to the Running Room or the local cycling shop and see what strikes my fancy.

Wait, what?

I’m going to go and see if there’s something I can give my money away for?

I shook my head and realized the insanity of the proposition. How backwards that seems to me now. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t NEED pretty much anything I’m going to buy with my birthday money, so I’m not against want-based spending if you can afford it and if you are helping others as well, but this just seemed over the top to me – to actually go and LOOK for ways to spend the money. Man, no wonder we don’t have savings in our society.

It’s an old pattern that I am now more aware of because of the financial hardships my wife and have endured over the last 3+ years. It has made me more cognizant of how, when, and on what I spend the money God has given me to steward.

Shopping just to spend… so bizarre!

Being Un-Ready and Okay with that

This is a Seinfeld post. You know, it’s about nothing and everything.

I’m so not ready.

I wasn’t ready to start my new job.

I wasn’t ready for my duathlon.

And I am most certainly not ready to become a Father sometime in the next 54 days.

This is compounded by the fact that I hate being new at anything because I hate not being perfect at something from the start. Yes, I know it’s illogical, thanks for pointing that out.

I have a lot of fear around becoming a father; all of which is perfectly normal, which is somewhat comforting.

So, I’m doing what I can to get ready: “Ready or not, here I come”, says the child.

Pre-natal classes are over and I don’t remember much, lol… thank God for my wife who does.

One thing I am scared about is gaining back the 50lbs I’ve worked so hard to loose. I didn’t gain the Freshman 15 when I went back to University in 2009, I didn’t gain weight when I got married and I don’t want to gain the Fatherhood 50 (or whatever). So, I have about 8 weeks to get into the best shape I can so that I can best take care of my son and my wife. 

Oh well… My son is coming and I’m super excited to meet him, hug him, kiss him and tell him how awesome he is.

Believing in the Church

Henri Nouwen, in his Bread for the Journey:  Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, the reading for October 18, has challenged me once again:

The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles’ Creed we pray, “I believe in God, the Father . . . in Jesus Christ, his only Son . . . in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” We must believe in the Church! The Apostles’ Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.

Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.

I’ve never thought of it this way, the Church as an object of faith. Or, that, by consequence, the job of the church is not to help make us believe, at least not in the first instance.

The Hippocratic Oath and Abortion

 

Hippocrates rubens

I’m not looking to begin a discussion, I’m just pointing something I don’t’ think I knew before:

The hippocratic oath, traditionally taken by physicians includes a point that reads:

Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

Whoops.

The Oath was written by Hippocrates* (460 BC – 370 BC), an ancient Greek physician, recognized the evils of abortion.

 

 

* The authorship is in dispute and it may have been written after his death.

8 things I’ve learned as a young lead pastor [reblog]

Leading a church as a young man is tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every week I see the changed lives and hear the stories of people being saved by Jesus, being healed by Jesus, and growing in their relationship with Jesus.

As a former pastor, I can relate to every point he makes. Though, sadly, I’m not sure how much my presence helped “change lives”.

Read the rest here

So excited!

Yup, I’m getting excited. We have just over 9 weeks to go until our son is born. I’ve always been happy about it, well a mix of happy and fearful, which is perfectly normal. This past week though I realized that I’ve turned the corner into super excited territory.

Being able to feel our son just beneath my wife’s stomach is just the coolest thing ever. To realize there is a little human being growing and developing inside her is truly astounding. I’ve always had the dreams of all the things I would do with my son and the things he would teach me, but they have become even more concrete and immediate now. We don’t have that much longer to go and we’ll be able see what he looks like.

I’m so very thankful and blessed for this special time in our lives.

Focus

Focus little thing scrabble game reflect tile think life simple

Starting a new job has emphasized the need to find a focus for my energy. My lack of focus is symbolized by my two blogs (the one you’re reading and this one). I can’t do both justice and I can’t keep both as an equal focus in my life. So, what direction to go in? Theology or Fitness and trying to inspire others towards health?