When you meet your children or your wife where they are, I can guarantee you that you are doing the Will of God.
We take our example from Christ who met every single person He cured/saved/tutored/met exactly where they were at the crossroads of their physical and spiritual being. Metaphysically, on that crossroad Christ was the Absolute Fulfillment of Love, filling all that was lacking just a moment before. After all, He is God, Perfect, the Alpha AND the Omega.
That sounds really high falutin, mystical, and completely un-relatable, but nothing can be further from the Truth. As a matter of fact, the door has been opened to emulate Christ in just the same way as He has shown us. Otherwise, He never could have told us to follow him or that we know the place where He is going.
I am challenged every day in every waking moment to be like Christ to my wife and children. If I am being honest (and some of you know more intimately than others), I epically fail consistently, completely, and cacophonously. The fact that Cassie is my wife is nothing short of a miracle and Grace. The fact that anything good at all exists in and is exhibited through my children is also beyond logic.
My gross ineptitude to love my family like Christ has been in the spotlight lately, as it should be. The funny thing about being in the spotlight is that you tend to do one of two things – one is easy and one is extremely difficult: you could fruitlessly try your best to keep the Light from revealing all of your ugliness or you could stand there stark naked and completely vulnerable to the Truth and let the light shine on all that is dark within you. Either way you will suffer, but on the vulnerable side you can find healing.
Knowing this, I try to be open and honest and humble and vulnerable, which is excruciatingly difficult! When things get hard, it’s easy to quit. So I pray for strength to persevere and to be more like Christ to my family.
Now, more to my point, when you meet your family where they are, you do the will of God.
Every morning I have the privilege of dropping my kids off at school. Most mornings I see a father walk with his son, hand in hand, until he drops him off with his teacher before any other kids get to class. I always watch fondly over the way this father and son interact. You can tell just how much they love each other. To witness that tangible love between them is quite beautiful and introspectively eye opening.
So, one morning, uncharacteristically, I say hello to the man and comment on the consistency of his drop off routine with his son. This very nice man then starts to tell me more information than I was expecting. I learn things about the man that take me back to experiences I had growing up and could empathize with. Despite the problems this man speaks to me about, I remain focused on the reality that this man goes to some length to meet his son where his son needs him. After some short conversation, we part ways, but changed just a little. I caught a glimpse of Love’s example and God only knows what he might have taken with him, but I surmise he was gifted with empathy.
Later, I have a moment to reflect and see all the times I do not meet my wife or children where they need me. The Truth is jarring. What is a man to do about his own brokenness?
The only thing I know to do…ask for prayers from friends, place myself at the Altar at Mass and ask God to wash me in His Blood, go to Confession, and turn to His Word:
“A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1 NABRE
Considering the above is both what God asks me to do and what God does for me, I believe He asks that I follow in His example a path of gentleness, despite myself.
Lord, give me your gentleness. Lead me. Where there is Hatred, sow Love within me.