Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is nice to have a special day off to catch up with my study and some chores at home. When life is always on the fast lane, you may not have time to truly enjoy the kind of life that God has given to you, and the relationship that you have developed over the years. We all need some quiet time to draw close to our Creator God from time to time, so that we will not become too busy to lose touch with our most fundamental relationship in life. Indeed, our relationship with Christ is and should be fundamental to all other relationships that He has given. Once we are too busy to interact with God, we will become too busy with family and loved ones.
Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me. If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me (Matt 10:36-38 Message). The self cannot be itself if it does not grow, and for a creature made in the image of God to grow is to love. No living being can be static, the self cannot be preserved in amber. Every new act of love requires detachment from what is outgrown, what serves merely to infantilize us. Karlfried Durchheim used to insist: “You never kill the ego, you only find that it loves in a larger house than you thought.” The self, if it is to become itself, must find a larger house to dwell in than the house where everyone coddles us and responds to our whims. The passage from leaving home to entering marriage is the archetypal transition from the comfortable, cared-for self to be strenuous, caring-for self.
Self-love is obsessed with keeping what it has and adding a little more of the same. That is why it is so boring. There is never anything new to say, nothing new to discover. Self-love assesses its position by what it has and is panicked at the thought of losing any of it. Forced into new relationships, into new situations, its first consideration is not of the new fields for love but of the appalling prospects of loss. So it clings. It holds. And it whines.
The detachment that is prerequisite for mature marriage prepares us for maturity in love across the board. We outlive our past over and over again. There comes a moment when I am no longer a spouse, I am no longer a parent, I am no longer employed, I am no longer healthy. There are periods of my life that are immensely valuable and enjoyable and useful but which by their very nature cannot be perpetuated. Ironically, if we try to perpetuate them in the name of love, we ruin love.
Detachment is not disloyalty; it is a requirement for the next movement of love, which is a movement into a more perfect love. Such movement almost always begins in feelings of loss, of deprivation. But detachment is not loss – it is a precondition for fresh creativity.
I found this to be true when I was traveling by myself in Southeast Asia last month. I felt my love for Loretta (my wife) being renewed. I treasured the time to write her love notes whenever I had Internet accessibility. Love grew a lot during that brief period of detachment. It was not driven by fear of losing her love if I did not write, but more of treasuring that loving relationship with her instead. I don’t think God wants us to really ‘hate’ our parents and spouses, if those relationship were His gifts for us in the first place. The command, to love Him first or to love Him more than any human beings, is more to grow love in a proper priority and reality. God is love. The more we focus on God in solitude or quiet time of detachment from worldly relationship, the more we are empowered by His love to love others as a result. Therefore, if you are too busy to find time for God, you are too busy to grow love. And when you are too busy to grow love, you are too busy to really enjoy the kind of lives that God has designed for you to live. Amen?
Love you through His abundant Love,