I tend to see patterns. “This guy listens to a lot of Tom Petty,” I once said to my wife while listening to one band or another. She just stared at me stoically and eventually accused me of “always ruining bands” for her by drawing comparisons. This was a fair accusation; I do always do that. As a defensive side-note, these comparisons would not bother everyone, but are pretty explosive to one that identifies closely with an Enneagram four. Nevertheless, I see patterns. And have a tough time shutting up about it.
I believe in God. Now, I am wrestling out most of the specifics. How much of my faith requires that I believe in a literal this or a transfigured that or a manifestation of the other thing? I don’t know. “What you believe about God is the single most important aspect of who you are.” These were the words of a minister I knew once. They still shoot through my brain from time to time, as I am sure he intended them to. Their meaning has evolved over time, though. Initially meaning something akin to “your value it tied to your zeal for the Baptist god.” Lower “g” intentional. This definition of the minister’s statement, likely not what he intended, eroded and changed into what I currently hold as a truth. “You are shaped by the archetype at the top of your belief system.” Sinners in the hands of an angry God look for penance, but often feel justified to punish those that do wrong. Those who believe they can elicit divine intervention through prayers and acts of faith tend to blame their own internal corruptions on a trickster devil while taking – at least partial – credit for the perceived good in their life. From where I stand now, most of these outcomes seem to be due largely to our archetypal hierarchy. We become like the thing we pursue.
I am a parent. “It is terrible! You’ll love it!” This was the advice of a wonderful customer my wife and I served when we had just discovered our son was gestating in Hannah’s abdomen. It has proven to be completely true. Our kids wreck us. They constantly turn mirrors on our broken hearts and make us feel naked. They hurt us with their now eviscerating back talk. They break my soap bar in half. FOR FUN! Honestly. Who does that? But they also make me laugh from a well in my soul that I have not drunk from in decades. They inspire me to take better care of my body so I can keep up with their level of play until I’m busy one day with grandkids. But there is one sort of mixture of these extremes that has recently brought me to write this post. They reveal to me that I am capable of shouldering them with too much. Too much knowledge. Too much responsibility. Too stern a response. I have learned – painfully, slowly, and badly – to know my kids and give them enough. Enough to challenge them. Enough to interest, but not overwhelm. Enough to show them the boundaries.
And this is the point in the form of wondering out loud, but using your brain to do it. I wonder if the suffering and hardship we experience in life is not a means to allow us, generation after generation, to improve mankind until we are ready to be shouldered with the weight of “real life.” What if the end is not intended to be, as I was taught, an Earth destroyed in fire and built again? What if we are building the world now? One kindness on the previous one. One mercy after the next. What if our archetype was, in part, a good father that knows what we need in order to challenge us, interest us, and show us boundaries? I wonder is that minister was right and that “what you believe about God is the single most important aspect of who you are.”