“I’m so happy for you!” we exclaim, sometimes crushed inside at another’s new job/baby/home, etc. when we ourselves had been pleading to God for the very same thing.
It is impossible to rejoice at another’s goodness, either material or spiritual, when we harbor envy within. But we don’t need to give in to the temptation to heed envy’s incessant cry of “that’s unfair!” if we remember that we are part of God’s own family.
The other day I was kissing the baby’s toes. I saw my eight-year-old looking at me, and I wondered if she was sad that I wasn’t snuggling with her. I hoped, though, that she could see how much her dad and I love each child, no matter their age or ability. When she saw me kiss her sister’s toes, she saw how I kissed her own when she was that age. Or when we correct the toddler, she can see how we helped her through the difficult 2’s and 3’s, saving her from a lifetime of anger and destruction one time-out at a time.
Our love for our children is just that: love, the same love for each child. But it looks different in each child’s life according to his needs and situation. Hopefully, when our kids take a step back at look at our whole family, they can see the many and varied ways in which my husband and I care for them and how they show that same love to each other. Multiplied ad infinitum is God’s love for us and our entire human family. Becoming fixated on who has what is losing touch of the big picture: that we are truly part of God’s family, sharing in the same Love that He bestows on each of us, no matter our position in the family.
St. Paul calls us to comprehend with all the saints God’s love, and we can do that when we remember that when God gives a certain grace or benefit to someone else, it is also given to each of us in His family, a reminder of that same Love with which He loves us all.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:14-19
Copyright 2015 Meg Matenaer.
Photo by GaborfromHungary (2013) via Morguefile.