Parenting: Self Denial

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have what he wants merely because he wants it.
-H Clay Trumbull

let go of self

Mr. Trumbull suggests here that things in the 1890’s were getting out of control. That children were receiving too much in the way of indulgences. The quantity of presents was too many in these days, he held. Interesting. I can not help be imagine how many more presents a child receives in a year now than then. Mr. Trumbull suggests this is quite harmful to a child who needs to learn self denial. A most important characteristic for a christian I agree. Self denial is at the core of self control, a topic that is elemental in this study of Mr. Trumbull’s book, Hints on Child Training and that we lead off with in this study. Mr. Trumbull goes on to suggest that,

It is every parent’s duty to deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the playroom, with companions, and away from them; and the doing of this duty by the parent brings a sure advantage to the child.

Without self denial, or from the parents perspective plain denial, a child, Mr. Trumbull explains is at a great disadvantage of happiness,

The average child of the present generation receives more presents and more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of today expects new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief that he will receive them. In Consequence of their abundance, he sets a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.

And so we come to the takeaway: a practical, here is a way to do it, piece of advice for parents who desire a child to understand self control. Denial. Interesting. Also I find interesting how core self denial is in being Christian. We are often referred to as Christ followers and as Jesus puts it self denial is the very first step. Luke 9:23-24 reads:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

A small divergent on this concept of taking up your cross daily. Often I hear this referred to as a sort of burden “this is my cross to bear” and so forth. Though I have come to believe it quite the opposite. In the days of Jesus, it is my estimation, if you saw someone walking around with their cross it meant one thing. They were on their way to die. Their life was coming to an end. This mindset accompanied with Jesus’ command to deny yourself I think is an important one to consider. So much of what keeps us from following Christ is being wrapped up in our self; but I like my sin and so forth. James 1:18-20 shows us clearly that selfishness is the beginning of sin. But in this case, someone who had taken up his cross, their mind I imagine would be so far from the worries of this world, which so often are wrapped up in self. Worrying about the distant future or the distant past is often a case of being consumed with self. So in turn this idea of denying self is quite freeing and peaceful. One of great mysteries of life if this concept of letting go something you care so much about. Our nature screams hold on tight that money, that preference, etc. but God says let go my first fruits and your vats will overflow. Much the same I believe is this concept of freeing yourself from being consumed with self. Letting go of self, not a burden but a measure of true freedom and peace on earth.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Let there be light

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
-Albert Einstein

Forest Floor In Autumn With Ray Of Light

Time is such an interesting thing. Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests that when God spoke let there be light He was in fact embedding energy in the earth for us to find and make use of, that we may have more time. Recall the sun and the moon and the stars had not yet been created when God created light. Interesting.

Last summer Jamie and I had the privilege of staying in a beautiful old bed and breakfast that was built in the 1850’s with some of our closest friends. This old home belonged to a prominent family of their day and we were lucky enough to spend some time reading a set of the family’s memoirs. Throughout the trip a friend of ours consistently drew us back in time, asking questions like what do you suppose the coolest part of living in the 1850’s would have been? We often found ourselves thinking about just how different it would have been.

The memoirs touched on some business that the father of the house had engaged in. Like most business it dealt with deep partnerships. I can not recall exactly what took place but the gist of the matter was that one of the men was traveling to take a meeting for with the other. The meeting was set by post and many things were assumed that we would not be assumed today. For example, the meeting was set on a week not on the hour or minute. That is, “I plan, should you find it agreeable and God willing, to arrive the week of the 7th.” It was assumed the traveler would be put up, that the receiver would be flexible and set, for the most part, a week aside. Also, I am assuming here, it would not be irregular that when the traveler arrived the gentleman of the house may not be there waiting to receive him. The traveler may have to wait. Imagine that.

This manner seems slow and inefficient at a superficial glance. This manner of taking a meeting and furthermore perhaps just to talk through a the details of a deal, that of which might get done via text today, would seem too slow to many of today’s CEOs. And yet these men had still managed to conduct commerce and provide commodities for our country on large scale. Interesting.

Consider for a moment how deep and meaningful a partnership a stage like this in the 1850’s would set. Contrasted with today’s ‘busy’ business owners, where often every minute is accounted for at least once. Constantly rushing around, putting out the next fire, never seeming to have enough time. Yet we have been blessed with so much energy enhancements, we have been given so much time back since the 1850’s. What a contrast.

In the old world there were two large and contrasting cultures. Jerusalem and Athens. When we think of what Greece gave the world we often think of sculptures and philosophy. Both unaffected by time. Interesting. A sculpture unchanging. A debate neverending. Another from Greece the gymnasium and preservation and worship of youth. Contrasted with Jerusalem where elders were held in high esteem. Jewish culture holds fast to time passing. They consider this understanding a blessing not something to work against. On the first day of hanukkah one candle is lit. The next day two are lit. Things are changing.

Things, relationships, are changing. Strengthening and weakening. We can not attend to a relationship once and for all and expect it to stay well. Leave it be and come back in two years and it will not be where you left it. Things are changing, getting better, getting worse.

There was a brilliant commercial I saw once that played on this fact. It was a teeth whitening commercial that said “if you’re not whitening, you’re yellowing”. They were right. Things change as time passes. I have come to believe that God gave us energy to multiply our time. The question then becomes, with all this wonderful energy at our disposal, what things are we investing our time in?

-A takeaway from Festival of Lights by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Theological Virtues: Hope

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
-C.S. Lewis

Hope

Hope is the calling to look further than right front of you. To desire more. But what of the endless chase for the rainbow’s end, where does that leave us? C.S. Lewis talks of three ways to seek this out. The first, he calls The Fool’s Way: where they blame the thing itself. The thing that showed so much promise in the start but turned back on itself and did not quite deliver. The fool goes on thinking his whole life that if only he tried a new woman, a more expensive vacation, a more interesting study, that would bring him the satisfaction he desires. The second, he calls The Way of the Disillusioned ‘Sensible Man’: where they ‘discover’ there is no end to the rainbow and they come to expect less of things. While this type is less of a burden on society they often end up a ‘prig’ and looking down on those who have not come round to the idea. The third, he calls The Christian Way: that creatures are not born with a desire there is no satisfaction for. This does not mean that a deep longing for something complete that is not found in this world proves our existence in this world a big trick, but rather that we were not designed to only exist in this world.

I believe the definition of understanding is obeying God’s law. Ecclesiastes, one of the books of wisdom of the Bible ends this way: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Understanding is a form of wisdom and deals with knowing the future. We hear people say things like “That was wise, you played that well: going for the promotion rather the raise. That will pay off in the end.” Understanding how a thing will turn out ‘in the end’. Psalms 119:34 reads: “Give me understanding so that I make keep Your law and obey it with all my heart.” That is, show me what will come of my actions in the end so I can make the right choice now. More desire and delight in them. Most celebrate them and praise God! True understanding rests in the eternal. Christians are blessed to be afforded the understanding of eternal ‘gratification’. Eternal understanding means sometimes making decisions to do this or that when the reward will not come in this world.

Hope is fixed on the eternal gratification. This call of Christians to keep our minds fixed on the eternal helps us determine what to do right now. For the present is where eternity touches time. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “Aim at heaven and you will get the earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Next week, a study of the the Christian virtue faith I believe will show, very plainly, what exactly it is that everyone is searching for, why our soul longs for it and how it works.

 

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude

Fortitude includes both kinds of courage – the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that ‘sticks it’ under pain.

-C.S. Lewis

Marine Corps War Memorial

Fortitude from the latin fortis meaning strong. Fortitude in the english defined as courage in pain or adversity. C.S. Lewis believes that “courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” He points out a lesson from history noting that Pontius Pilate was just until it became too risky. What good is temperance or prudence or justice if it breaks the moment it matters?

C.S. Lewis wrote of courage during World War II. Many illuminating writings on the matter come from war. From times when men are called to kill and die. And face the end of their existence in this world. In the new World War II movie, Fury, it is no wonder that when the protagonists have a chance to escape certain death but chose to stay and fight that they draw their courage from quoting aloud the truth in 1 John 2:15-17:

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The director of the movie is quoted saying of this last chapter in the film, “It’s fascinating that, because of his faith, he’s not unafraid of dying, but he’s able to accept it and doesn’t see it as the end of the road.”

So much of what matters in life and of the virtues comes around when there is something to lose. The most so: things of self. The most of this: life. Our life. Even the life of those we love. What of the life of our only son? If we can get past this the smaller things that are so large and do so much damage; our pride, our reputation, our prospects, our preferences become much easier to let go of. This may sound jarring, but it is just life. It is just a life. Let go. Give it to God. Trust all of self with God. Let go this world and hold fast to the next. May we all fall out of love with this world and break the bonds of slavery to it. Freeing ourselves to live in peace and do the will of God.

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Drink of the Deep: Simplicity

God made us plain and simple but we have made ourselves very complicated.

-King Solomon

Busy retail high street 3 days after Christmas

A wet spring dusk among the shops. The kind where the lights of cars and street lights and store lights reflect on the wet ground. The rain ceased. The sidewalks busy again. A mother has conquered the shops. Plunder in elbow – hurries on a little one to come along. A man rushes past on his jog, playlist in ear. A group of young men banter back and forth as they head to the pub. Another mother hurriedly rushes around an SUV after shepherding several little ones in. Everyone late for full. On time for empty.

Deep things intrigue. Deep things fulfill. An adventure in the deep wilderness.  The superficial distract and leave empty. Once you have had a deep adventure the superficial just will not satisfy. A deep conversation of everlasting things can not be replaced by empty talk that goes no where.

What have we done to live our lives so superficially? Spending our time on things that do not last. Who can say if these people are on a deep adventure? Perhaps it is their cares that will decide. Are they focused on the distant past and distant future or on the everlasting and now? Planning and wanting for themselves or responding and serving others?

 

-A takeaway from Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

The Law of Authenticity

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.

-Anne Marie Lindbergh

The Roman sculpture of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus

Sincerely. At the bottom of a note. “Trust me” we say. The note, not calculated, arrives bonafide. I am being authentic. I am not hiding anything. I am not playing politics. The word derived from the latin sin: without, cera: wax, comes to our sincerely. Without wax. As it were sculptors in ancient Greece who had something to hide, and were not above it, used wax to deceive. The wax used to fill in imperfections would of course eventually melt away. Sculptors then became expected to deliver to the buyer a note stating the product was indeed without wax.

What wax we use to cover and fill in what we wish were this or that in us? Always afraid of the wax melting away to reveal the truth. What an uncertain exhausting way. Complexes abound. Hindering relationships and progress. Search deep for wax and be without. Everyone has things they would prefer be filled in or unnoticed. That very desire is however what should concern. We are who we have been created to be.  Imperfectly beautiful. Live without wax and go in peace.

The Law of Authenticity:

The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Anxiety into Peace

For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.

-C.S. Lewis

Peace

A habit that I have come to cherish is a habit of peace and tranquility. It came from a mix of things I took away from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie and The Servant Leader by Blanchard and Hodges and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lweis.  I like to do it as soon as my eyes open in the morning.  It goes like this.

  • get down on your knees and place your hands face down on the ground
  • list off all the things you are working towards in your life and commit them to the LORD
  • once you have exhausted your list turn your palms up and ask the LORD “What will You have of Your servant today LORD?”
  • listen and weigh what you hear against your foundation in the Bible
  • take your marching orders for the day and go in peace

I have been taught that often when I am anxious or worried about projects I am working on it is likely because I have not committed them to the LORD.  That I am being prideful and working for my own selfish interests.

I absolutely love the image above – a takeaway from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.   The idea that eternity transcends all time.  And.  The point at which eternity touches time is right now.  C.S. Lewis suggests that God wants us to focus on eternity and right now.  The Deceiver on the other hand would have us focus on the distant past and the distant future as a way to make sure we are not doing what we should be doing right now.  To paralyze us with fear and worry.

God help us focus on eternity and now.  Help us focus on You and on others.  Lead our spirits on level ground and establish the work of our hands LORD.

 

-A takeaway from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

-A takeaway from The Servant Leader by Blanchard and Hodges

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lweis

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.