If the highest-level college course is 400, then I think perhaps my life is about 800 level. I shall call it “Humanity 801.” I think that this course probably takes between 10 and 18 years to complete. Then I will move on to Humanity 802, which is in large part a repeat and review of Humanity 801, with some additional work.
So Humanity 801 (in my life) looks like this: it's all about observation.
Incident: Oh, look at that, I just yelled at my 19 month old. Hmm, that's probably not an effective way to handle this situation. Okay, good to note that; maybe try something different next time.
Observation: It turns out hugs are much more effective in helping a crying child (of any age) than hollering.
Source: "An embrace is an action which flows from love. For every spiritual affection has a corresponding gesture that a person performs with his body" (Secrets of Heaven 6261).
Incident: Interesting: this morning ran really smoothly as I fed everyone breakfast and hustled three kids and a husband out the door. Why was that I wonder...? Well, I was happy, and smiling, and calm. Not all the kids were happy and calm during the whole hour of the morning, but I didn't yell at them, and everyone one stayed mostly chill, no huge blowouts like we often have...cool!
Observation: I can't guarantee that the kids will be happy and calm, but if I am, things will be better than if I'm not.
Source: "When the Divine from the Lord flows in gently, there is everywhere a state of calm and serenity, in which every one appears such as he is as to the state of his good, for then every one stands forth in the light" (Apocalypse Explained 419).
Incident: I did not get much sleep last night. I really want to get all the heaps of laundry dealt with. If these kids don't stop pestering me, I am REALLY going to lose it. Don't they KNOW I'm doing this for THEM? Do they think that this is what I do for FUN?! Do they have ANY idea how much DIRTY UNDERWEAR I have to DEAL with here?! I pu ton their favorite movie for goodness' sake, and they still can't give me ten minutes to do chores that I don't want to be doing in the first place! CAN'T I HAVE FIVE MINUTES OF PEACE?!
Observation: Perhaps when I have had almost no sleep the night before it would be better to allow the laundry pile to grow for one more day, and snuggle with them on the couch while they watch their favorite movie.That actually sounds really nice.
Source: "A father and mother's obligations to their children come from a parental love that is instinctive in everyone. Children's obligations to their parents come from and depend on another love that is closely linked with obedience under obligation" (True Christianity 431). "Love is what is receptive of every heavenly quality, that is of peace, intelligence, wisdom, and happiness. Love is receptive of everything that is in harmony with it. It longs for such things, it seeks them out, it absorbs them spontaneously because it has the constant purpose of uniting itself with them and being enriched by them" (Heaven and Hell 18).
Grading: For the above Incidents I have scored an A.
Really? An A? But I yelled...at a baby! I made laundry more important than my children's happiness. And I didn't mention the many, many mornings that were terrible. How does that rank an A?
Because I noticed. Even if I didn't actually do better the next time around, I noticed it then too, and I tried. I could criticize myself for trying to get laundry done, but that's too harsh. I was in fact trying to do something good; the fact that I was too tired to think clearly does not make this a failure. I gave generously of my time the night before by being present with my sweet baby who needed comfort. Of course I was tired and burnt out the next day; anyone would be.
"But...but...that can't be an A, because that would mean that this is the best I can do! It's not good enough. I yell at my kids—did you miss that part? I hate that. The more I try not to, the more I hate myself (yes I mean hate—I know it's a strong word) for failing to do better. It's not fair to my poor sweet children that I am so bad at this. I should be perfect. I SHOULD HAVE THE UNENDING LOVE AND EMOTIONAL RESOURCES OF GOD!"
Whoa there! Wait a minute. Remember the part about this being an educational experience? Did I learn to walk or ride a bike the first time I tried? Why is this any different? This is on an order of magnitude more difficult than riding a bike, and if I think back, learning that took me months. I need to go back and look where I wrote that this course lasts from 10 to 18 years. Depending on how I count, I am at most 10 years in—and I think that is per kid, by the way, so only my oldest child counts as teaching me for 10 years so far. The "clock" started again at 0 when my youngest was born, so think of it as another 9.5 to 18 years left of this class. Okay? I am doing great!
And as far as having the unending love and emotional resources of God... Yeah, it's um...yeah, let go of that goal; it's not gonna happen, I am not God (believe me, that's a good thing). I could say so much more about this whole wanting to be God thing, but for now let's just leave it at this: Stop trying to be God. I'm not. Move on.
Oh, and, I am doing a great job.
Tirah is the mother of five wonderful and overwhelming kids, and the wife of one patient and loving husband. They are all doing the best they can, loving life, and living in Bryn Athyn, PA.