Four bedtime stories, a hug, a prayer, a sweet Amen and finally I place my grandson in his crib. Ten minutes later he calls. “Oumie. Oumieeee. Where are you?” The heart of all Oumies everywhere melts. I am here, sweet child, always here, I want to say. I want to hold him and play and tickle some more. That is my self-interest and his self-interest at work. What he really needs is for me to reinforce his mother’s bedtime routine. What he really needs is to rest and to sleep so that tomorrow he can play again. Our self-interest is always at war with our best-interest.
We are selfish. Every last one of us. Within each one is this heavily guarded door leading to a heart of self-interest. Nowhere is this more subtly at work than in our families.
The first of our kind
One of the first commands from God to human kind was to create family. Procreation is an astounding gift. This ability to fuse two people into a new third, who carries within them all those that came before, is remarkable. It is sacred.
The first of our kind were welcomed into the Creator’s home, not as servants, but as family. He made them not to use them but simply to love them. For their sake, not His. God’s love toward them was untarnished – seeking their best-interest not his self-interest. He, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, modeled family to them in its purest form. A place of safety. A place of joy. A place of rest. Family – a supportive, never ending sphere of love.
Except it did end.
The first of our kind fell. Broke. Their self-interest destroyed them. They lost each other, they lost their home and they lost their family.
Their son killed.
The depth of pain to a parent whose son becomes a murderer is unfathomable to me. The loss of a son – killed by their own – unimaginable. These were their babies, the ones they cuddled and loved and delighted over. Their once innocent boys. One dead. One guilty. This bloodstained pain seeped deep and within each of us the legacy continues. Behind that heavy door of self-interest we protect ourselves.
The door is penetrated
Except, there is one who stands at the door and knocks. If we open, when we open, even just the slightest crack, his grace will come in and heal these broken hearts of ours. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit steps through the door and Family moves in. The source of family moves in. This Oneness, this Sacred, this Holy moves in to broken vessels and shines a light in our dark places. When we trust his love, he sweeps out our corners of hypocrisy, when we submit to his correction, he purifies our intents, when we call on his grace he washes the stains from our walls of self-preservation.
When Christ moves in and we, with humility gained from countless missteps, follow in his ways, we remember. We remember “us” not “I”. We remember the Sacrifice and we give more freely. We remember our undeserved forgiveness and we more easily pardon. We remember the bloodstained sin passed on from generation to generation and we have compassion. When we remember we think in new ways. We think of what is praiseworthy in our son or daughter, we see what is true and good in our parents, we understand what is pure and right in our siblings and we give thanks for all the virtue in our spouse. When Christ moves in we remember the sacred in those we love most dearly and when we act, it is with them foremost on our minds.
Here then we come full circle to what was modeled for us by Family himself; a place of safety, a place of joy, a place of rest for all – tied together not by self-interest but by best-interest.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.“ – Philippians 2:3-4