Art of Persistence

"The art of love ... is largely the art of persistence." -Albert Ellis

Friday, July 27, 2007

TBM's Epiphany

The Boy has been misbehaving. The Boy's Mom (TBM) is frustrated with him, almost to the point of despair. Then TBM hears the 5 year old saying his bedtime prayers. "Lord, please forgive me for the wrong things I do. And help me to do better. I don't know what my problem is. Just please help me." Along with the lump in her throat, and the tear in her eye, TBM gets some perspective. Yes, he is her boy, and she wants him to be the best behaved boy that's ever lived. But he is still a sinner in need of deliverance. And she also gets something to be thankful for: he's trying to do better, and asking for God's help. He's really not that different from the rest of us, except that we're better at hiding the wrong things we do, and not so quick to ask for forgiveness and help.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Epiphany #302

A few weeks ago, just after Father's Day, I was driving home from work on an alternate route, trying to stop dwelling on my own heartaches and frustrations with career and finances, when I noticed an old house that reminded me powerfully of the house in which I grew up. It brought back images of my Dad when he was not yet aged, when he was struggling to raise three boys on his own. I remember him waking up before God so that he could work the job he didn't like so that he could pay the bills. I remember him sitting at the kitchen table concentrating powerfully on those bills. I remember him plowing that long driveway in the Winters before we were big enough to help. I remember him in his old clothes working in the garden to feed our growing appetites and save a few dollars. And that old house reminded me of our house: the archaic, threadbare carpet, hand-me-down furniture and general on-the-edge-of-tumble-down condition. Suddenly I realized that my Dad must have felt all the same heartaches and frustrations , except his were intensified by his love for three motherless boys.

It was all I could do to keep my tears in check enough to drive safely. I know that while growing up we all complained about not having or doing the same things as the neighbor kids. We whined about the lack of horses, minibikes, swimming pools, bb guns, etc.. As most kids, I had never really given much thought to how my Dad was working the best he knew how to provide for us. All I could see was what TV and the neighbors told me I should have, but didn't. Now I was feeling how all of this complaining must have added to his heartaches and frustrations.

This past weekend we went for a visit to see our families back in our home state. While leaving my Auntie's house, I noticed all the knick-knacks that she's acquired over the decades, some from her son, some from nieces and nephews (including me). And something like the feeling that I had experienced while driving past that old house came over me. I realized, I felt it in my bones, that my Auntie has felt many of those same heartaches and frustrations. I knew that any decent parent has struggled with heartaches and frustrations and has offered anguished prayers to provide something better for their children.

In my mind I could see a huge crowd of parents with their children. And I knew that each of these parents felt something of these same hurts that I've felt, but magnified because they were the result of their concern for their children. Driving back to our home in the diaspora, seeing all the names of towns full of people that I don't and will never know, I was moved by the thought of this enormous amount of love, by the millions of parents praying for their children, struggling and sacrificing for them. And there are not just whole towns, but whole states, whole countries, whole continents full of people I don't and will never know. And most of these parents are loving their children the best way they know how, pouring out their energy, their very lives for the sake of the helpless. Love circles the earth, cradles it, and lullabies it with heart-rending prayers for the future.