Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How do children understand marriage?

A question I've been pondering to myself today is: How do children learn and understand the concept of marriage, especially if their parent(s) aren't married?  

In my daily consumption of pop culture, I've already come across two examples of male celebrities who are openly thinking about getting married due to their (out-of-wedlock) kids asking them why they aren't married to their mother.

1. P. Diddy in his song, "Coming Home":


Between 1:05 and 1:22, P. Diddy raps:

What am I supposed to do when the club lights come on /
It's easy to be Puff, but it's harder to be Sean /
What if the twins ask why I ain't marry their mom /
How do I respond?  /
What if my son stares with a face like my own /
And says he wants to be like me when he's grown?

2.  An article on people.com (<sigh> yes, I do glance at it occasionally...okay fine, daily) where Brad Pitt is re-considering his long-held view that he, "will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able."  What's making him reconsider?  His kids asking about it (full interview here).

Preparing to have a child myself, I've been thinking more and more about how I want to teach my kids and how I want them to see me.  Surely, a great deal of their understanding of marriage will come from the model they learn from me and my wife, but in the two situations above, the children seem to know either that if their parents love each other or if they are their parents' children, their parents should be married (or both). 

Is that something learned in school or from societal clues around them?  Or is there an additional instinctive, inherent, natural order to it as well?  At the very least, the family unit is showing to be quite influential to even the more world-hardened people.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Possimpible Way

I've always liked David Hayward's image of the "Narrow Way".

As I live more and more life, Jesus' words in Matthew 7:13-14 continue to ring more and more true.  It's really hard to follow Jesus and it requires changing, stretching, and conforming our hearts, very painfully at times, to be more like His.  Narrow gate indeed.

I have to admit though, that after seeing Hayward's image, one of the first things that came to my mind was, "Hey, that totally reminds me of the Japanese variety show human tetris game!"

And then after watching the video again, I've come to the conclusion that it's an even better analogy, albeit a much more ridiculous and light-hearted one!  Let me explain:

It's always a shock when we first realize how much is required of us to become a disciple.

Many of us actually make an attempt to try and figure out what it takes to follow Jesus.

Some of us fail...

...even when it looks pretty easy to observers.
(how do they not beat this one?!)

Some of us succeed!...

...only to discover that the next level  in following Jesus is even crazier and more impossible (or possimpible if you will).

 Then on top of that, try to do it in community.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I need to anticipating

As an ABC, it is engrained in me to anticipate others' needs.  If someone asks me for help with something before I anticipate it, I am internally shamed (though not to be mistaken for having already mentally anticipated a need, but just waiting for them to ask - hey, we're not robots). 

It's like I go through life with one eye on the things I'm doing and one eye on the people around me.  If I'm buttering my bread at the toast making station in the cafeteria, I can feel exactly if the person behind me wants to squeeze in behind me to get their toast started in the toaster (that reminds me of one of my favorite puns: The phrase, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" doesn't make sense - that's like saying, "Toasters don't toast toast, toasts toast toast."  Great...now the word "toast" just looks spelled wrong.).  Anyways, so I let the person squeeze in next to me, after all, efficiency, I guess, is king.

However, just because I can anticipate something doesn't mean that I'll meet the need.  I am an aggressive driver (not to be confused with an Asian woman driver), there, I said it.  And so when I see a fellow aggressive driver coming up behind me a lane over knowing that he wants to cut in front of me, I may speed up so that he gets stuck behind the slower car ahead of him in his lane.  There, I said that too.  Sometimes I can be a jerk like that.

But even more jerk-like, it's sometimes amazing to me how I can irrationally project this value I have onto other people.  I mean, if I'm working so hard to anticipate others' needs, people should at least return the freaking favor right?  That right there is the heart of the sins that I tend to confess the most during Confession.  If I'm next in line at the toast station and all I want to do is get my toast started, if only the person taking their sweet time and their sweet space could feel the wrath of my internal lambasting that I'm too non-confrontational to say.  Don't even get me started when I'm driving behind slow people.  <sigh>.  Sorry, Jesus.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Three Qualities

Over my first five years of high school ministry, I've started to notice a trend. The students who seem to grow the most in their faith after graduation and during their college years tended to have the following three qualities:
  1. Teachability
    These students allowed their hearts to be challenged by seemingly familiar concepts and were always looking to grow.
  2. Unafraid to ask questions
    After allowing their hearts to be challenged, these students were unafraid to ask the tough questions, which always had a connection to their personal lives, and seek out answers.
  3. Willingness to take risks
    Once they asked their questions and heard the answers, they found the courage and conviction to be able to take a risk and attempt to put the principles into practice in their lives.  
It has been one of my greatest joys in ministry to hear the students testify to God's faithfulness in their lives as they continue to grow.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It's funny how thoughts influenced by the secular notion of the importance of "package" size can flash by during the season of pregnancy.  From the technician not finding male genitalia during the ultrasound (does a 90% certainty mean a 10% chance it was too small to find?) to knowing 8th-grader-like glances between guys when a baby comes out "strapped" or not, at the very least, you know your ish works.

Friday, May 20, 2011

When I'm lost...

...sometimes I feel like I don't really identify as a man who's too prideful to stop and ask for directions, but rather, I'm so prideful that I'd rather know exactly where I'm going and what I'm doing.

(off of today's Gospel reading: John 14:5)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Would I really be pro-life if...

A relative of mine recently got married and found out they were pregnant. As a couple, they are not very well-off financially or in a place the secular culture might deem as being "ready" to start a family.  Not being particularly religious, they were receiving pressure to abort the pregnancy and were seriously considering it as an option.

When I heard about the situation, it hit rather close to home.  It made me realize that in my social circle, there isn't a lot of practical room for a situation like aborting an "unplanned pregnancy" to play out or at least where the couple would share about it as if it were a completely normal and valid option.

All of the catechesis that I've received or that I've taught or that my fellow young adult volunteers at my church teach is mostly theoretical.  We are quite well-versed in the rhetoric, but through this situation, I've realized that very few of us have a deeply personal connection or at the very least, share openly about a deeply personal connection to these life issues in our lives (ABC's tend not to be very vulnerable, but that's a different post entirely).

Being in the middle of our own pregnancy, I've had to face these issues more than I've ever had in the past on a personal level.  It has been a great experience being a part of the West Coast Walk For Life and also praying outside of an abortion clinic, but when our doctor is telling my wife and I about the need for genetic testing so in the case of catastrophic genetic deformity, we would be able to consider our "options," it hits me in a much deeper way.

Thankfully, my conscience has been well-formed enough so that we will receive whoever God gives us, no matter what.  But it was an interesting thought experiment for me to think about what it might feel like to consider abortion in the event of a major disability. 

I found that my immediate, albeit hypothetical, reaction was that all of the dreams of having a normal child, like running around in a lush field of green grass, having rowdy family dinners, cheering at their sporting events, etc., were the first thing to be offended and since that's what I really wanted - those experiences - the child, not being able to provide that, so I would think, didn't fit. 

The second reaction was thinking about all of the work and sacrifice that I hadn't signed up for.  There were expectations of a normal first few years of sleepless nights and diaper changes, but eventually the child would gain more and more independence and ultimately, we would have an empty-nest.  I didn't sign up to have to care for this child the rest of my life, never regaining the independence that I was supposing to only be temporarily giving up (see #2).

I found both reactions to be selfish.

On the flip side of the earlier situation, I lay awake that night asking myself, "If [the couple] were going to go through with the abortion, do I value life so much that I would volunteer to adopt their child?  I mean, I talk the pro-life talk, but do I believe it so much that I would sacrifice my life in this way so that a priceless life that I always teach/preach about would be saved?  Of course I would have to talk it over with [my wife]...I wonder what she would think.  It would be almost like having twins.  That would be CRRRAZY.  Jon and Kate Plus Eight here we come?  And it's interesting that the only way I'm having this conversation with myself (Thought Inception!) is because I'm married.  This definitely wouldn't work if I was still single.  Funny how marriage changes things..."  I think I fell asleep after that.

Thankfully, the couple has decided to keep their child!  That has now led me down the line of thinking how we can help support them and future play dates.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

White Knuckling vs Freedom to Choose

My Lenten fast taught me that when I foresee temptation, instead of shutting my eyes, putting my fingers in my ears, and shouting, "No! No! No!" (the classic white knuckle approach), I can simply recognize the temptation and, using my freedom, choose to say, "No."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

God's Blessing == Crazy Life?

Sometimes, God's lavishness and blessing on me makes my life here on earth feel really crazy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Oh Lord, I know that You can heal me of my affliction, but I struggle
with believing that I'm worth it to you and with thinking that there
are a lot more "worthwhile" things for You to concern yourself with.