Several times during rough patches in life I have found myself wondering, “How did I get here?” Most often the answer has been that my predicament was the consequence of a series of bad decisions. So I would gather myself and resolutely determine not to make those decisions again. And then I would, I would make the same bad decisions again…and again…and again. I understand now that although I was determined to change the decisions I made, I never changed what I valued. The same things were important to me so of course I kept making the same decisions over and over. Your decisions are driven by what is most important. If comfort and pleasure are the things you want most in life, it should be no surprise when you damage relationships for these gods. If acceptance is your greatest perceived need, then of course we would expect you to violate your own moral code for praise. Your behavior is a slave to the thing you value most.
What we value is what we will pass on whether we intend to or not. Our children are watching. My son was three when I went into his room and told him it was time to go and to get his shoes on. He looked up at me and said, “We’re in a hurry aren’t we Daddy?” One of the difficult things about having children is that they are tiny little mirrors placed in your house that reflect you. My son was showing me how I live, always in a hurry. I don’t want him to think life should be that way. I had to change my behavior…I mean what I valued. I had to ask why I was always in a hurry and the answer is that I try to do too much. I feel like I have to tell everyone yes or they won’t like me. That’s bad theology. I don’t want to be a slave to those expectations and I don’t want that for my son because it isn’t true. One day some religious guys asked Jesus what was the most important law in all the Bible. They wanted his take on the one thing that should be the guide in life. The thing that told them what was most important. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” This is the thing to be valued most, setting all your hope, trust, and strength on loving God and your neighbor. That’s what I want my son to pick up on. I want him to value Jesus, the one who kept these commandments, the one who trusted and loved the Father so much that he faced infinite suffering to be obedient, the one who loved us so much that he died to show us God’s love. Everything else hangs on that. Before my son leaves my house (12 years, 5 months, and 6 days from today) I want him to know how to hit a baseball, dribble a basketball, make amazing biscuits, grill a steak, read Latin, be able to talk to girls in real life, use a chainsaw, change the oil in his car, love reading, and do small engine repair. This is the short list. But more than anything else I want him to love God with all that he is and love his neighbor the way Christ loved him. That’s what is most valuable. –CC