July 19, 2018
There is one lie (among many) that our culture perpetuates, and we parents and grandparents, as much as we love our offspring, do them no service by perpetuating the illusion.
Have any of you heard that foolish comment that we show our children love by telling them that they are so special and that there is “nothing” they cannot accomplish if they really want to have or do something! The facts of biology, talent, having financial resources and all the other unfair aspects of “life” shows such a cultural dictum to be utterly absurd. I think about the five high school freshman (teenagers all: 4 girls and 1 boy) with whom I spent so many months preparing them for Confirmation. As much as I pastorally love and care for them, I can guarantee you that not one of them, no matter how much they try, or wish, or would demand will ever develop into a 6’10” NBA power forward! Not going to happen. There are limits to what we can accomplish. Sorry!
This is a cancerous notion that infects our culture. It’s called “entitlement.” I want something, therefore I should have it. I am entitled to it. And while those who live by this notion are annoying and arrogant at worst (and just plain foolish at best), the saddest thing is that this belief is a betrayal of what we’re called to be as disciples of Jesus. We’re to love one another as much as the Lord Jesus loves us. That sometimes means facing hard truths about our own physical, emotional financial, psychological limitations and the effects those limitations might have on our family life. I cannot have it all. I cannot do it all. I need to face the truth about this, and live within the limits of gifts and abilities that our gracious God has given me. Use those gifts and abilities, work to expand them if possible, never be satisfied with mediocrity, but also learn what my boundaries will ultimately be, be at peace with them, and be the best I can be.
In baseball, a young pitcher is taught to “stay within yourself” – to know what you can and cannot do. I just wonder if middle class suburban “culture” has become so filled with “entitlement” that we have lost our way and we just cannot or will not live within our limitations. God loves without limit. God alone acts without being subject to limitations. We humans can’t do either of those things.
We keep going back to the Genesis story of the primordial couple who are told: eat this fruit. You’ll be just like God. After all, you’re entitled. And how’s that been working out for us?