I’m going to stop updating this blog for awhile. The goal of this blog is to keep me writing, but I want to do that writing in some other venues now, so I’m saying no to this blog for a time. More often in life, I just passively say no, but here, I want to confidently say no for a time. Anything you need to say no too?
“My son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.”
Solomon, 3rd King of Israel
“Today I watched and heard a wren, a sparrow, and the mocking-bird singing. My brain started to trill why why why, what is the meaning meaning meaning? It’s not that they know something we don’t; we know much more than they do, and surely they don’t even know why they sing. No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing…The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?”
“Dad, you’ve got something in your ear. I’m going to get it out with the thermometer. This is going to hurt.”
Sitting at a wedding in downtown Little Rock recently, with the Metropolitan Bank tower a few blocks to my left and I-30 a few blocks to my right, I watched as a father walked his daughter down the aisle and answered the normal question with a cursory, “Her mother and I do.”
It’s a scene I view differently now because of Madeline and Anna. You can’t be a father at a wedding and not look forward to think about the potential wedding of your own daughter. At this wedding, however, the thought passed my mind, “This is the goal. He has passed his daughter on to the one who will now protect, provide for, and rub the feet of, her. He has worked himself out of a job.”
It’s a sobering thought. The goal of parenting is, to some degree, to work yourself out of a job. To take a child from a place of complete dependence on you to a place of independence. From a place where dependence is involuntary to a place where it is voluntary. To get to the place where the child respects and values you, but will, in all honesty, get along just fine without you.
At work as well, I ought to work myself out of a job. I’m constantly being reminded at work to find people who can come alongside me so that I can train them and release them to do the job with more focus and excellence. Find someone who can do your tasks 60% as well as you can and let them do it, a wise man once said.
Even with Ashley, I need (to some degree at least) to work myself out of a job. If there really is a God who, as Augustine writes, is where our hearts find rest, and is worthy of worship, then attempts to make myself the center of Ashley’s hopes, fulfillment, energy, love, etc., are worthless at best and idolatrous at worst. John the Baptist–perhaps the best example of a man who joyfully worked himself out of a job–said of Christ, “I must became less, he must become greater.” It sounds like a good bumper sticker phrase or bookmark, serving as a litmus test for any given relationship.
Whether it’s on that spiritual level or simply on the level of preparing my kids to leave home or love a spouse more than they love their parents, the goal is the same. Work myself out of a job.
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’.”
- Eating a tablespoon of cinnamon
- Drinking a gallon of milk within the span of an hour
- Eating a piece of bread in one minute (plain bread, no water allowed)
- Look up in the sky (if you’re a pig)
- Sneeze with your eyes open
- Write an email and talk on the phone at the same time and do both well
- Tickle yourself
- Draw the number 6 while moving your leg in a clockwise circle
- Put your hand like this and then raise your ring finger.
“Dad, don’t dance. We’re not dancing. We’re church-ing”