Monday, March 19, 2007

PRACTICING THE VIRTUOUS LIFE (and boy do I need practice!)

Jesus and the Virtuous Life

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Reflection Question: Have you ever had someone come to you and tempt you with an offer that was hard to refuse? Describe the circumstances.


Lydia said...

It wasn't an offer, exactly, but a year or so ago I developed a strong crush on someone I met at church. If I was single, this person would very much have been my "type."

I was a newlywed at the time. My husband has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Seasonal Affective Disorder, and that winter was particularly difficult for him.

It was - and to an extent still is - a real struggle for me to relate to this person on purely an acquaintanceship level. They may have been a good friend for me, but I've held back from the development of that friendship because of my crush: I don't want it to develop into anything more than that.

Nancy said...

Lydia: Thanks for sharing this. A few years back, I reconnected through email with a guy I was involved with early on in college. We had held eachother in high regard since the last time we had seen one another (about 20 years) wondering "what if?" over all that time. So, the reconnection was very intense and filled with so much wonder that we each had held a kind of connection over those two decades and that we STILL felt such a strong connection! We went into the same field, shared a mutual love for music, good food, hiking, nature...the main problem in it all was that while I was divorced, he was married. Oh, the temptation to meet with him face-to-face once more. I can not say it was anything in me that was able on my own to avoid this temtation. And I did not handle it perfectly. But God mercifully threw me (and this man) a life preserver when I got an email from yet another man I had a huge crush on in high school who was also divorced. I walked the tightrope for a while, I have to admit. But I could not avoid the understanding of my selfishness in choosing that reconnection. I could not see myself as "loving" when the potential for destruction was so high. It seemed to me the truly loving thing was to encourage him to fight for his wife, his marriage, his family. It was painful, difficult...but in the end, I know I did the right thing. Amazingly, God blessed me with love anyway with the man who is now my husband. The man I had a crush on in high school and who is my life partner, my heart's desire (after God) in ways I could not have imagined. Not necessarily easy mind you, but powerfully so none-the-less. And that is so humbling to me.

Lydia said...

Glad to hear that I'm not the only one with this sort of story. :)

Amy said...

Lydia and Nancy, thanks for being so open and sharing your stories.

I can't remember a big moment where I was presented with something hard to refuse. For me, I feel like it comes daily in my smaller decisions. Something that particularly comes to mind is losing patience with my children. I'd like to say I'm a patient person, but I'm not. Especially with my kids. I'm particularly struggling with my middle child currently. He's experiencing some delays in development and when I see those symptoms exhibit themselves, I tend to get frustrated. I have this image of what I want for him and what "sucess" means for him and when he's not measuring up to these ideas, I get discouraged and then annoyed.

Jemila Monroe said...

Lydia, Nancy, again, thanks for sharing so openly. I have experienced a bit of that sort of temptation, but not to the depth or extent that you both related.

I think right now I experience temptation similar to you, Amy, in so many smaller everyday ways, including with my older daughter who is an amazing, yet very high-maintenance little girl. Sometimes I get so overstimulated-stressed from our conflicting needs and my seeming lack of resources to meet them both, that it's easy for me to pidgeon-hole her into the "difficult child" role, and even to harbor some horrible thoughts -- like how the traits that are so difficult for me seem to come straight from my ex, and how my son who is biologically from my now-husband seems able to play on his own, be affectionate and also have determination for the things that are important to him, without making almost everything a fight. And and that can lead to even asking, "what if I hadn't made the mistake of marrying my ex...(God clearly told me not to,) and then I have so horribly guilty, like the worst person on earth, and it is humbling to realize that probably every human being alive today owes his or her existence and both good and challenging traits to someone, somewhere along the way getting involved in a poorly chosen relationship that resulted in God's gift of precious life. And I am so ashamed, because when I step back from my own baggage and see my daughter through God's eyes and the eyes of other people, I see that yes, she requires alot of energy, but she is so incredible, and I am so blessed to have her as my daughter. And when I can touch that place of being able to separate "this" from "that" I am filled with exhausted, beautiful gratitude for Grace and Nika.

Amy said...

Jemila, you worded that so beautifully.

Shame is exactly what I feel in those moments when I loose patience with Nate (or with any of my children). But, when I look at them with God's eyes rather than through my own expecations, there is something beautiful and amazing there that goes beyond my own comprehension, and I have renewed grace toward them.