Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sad Is Not the Same as Mad

I've written about how I began to re-embrace the possibility of faith in The Holy Spirit after a young woman told me that she thought that God hadn't thrown Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, but that they had decided to turn away from God. God, like a loving parent, stands at the gate in sadness and hope waiting for his children to return home. When we begin with this interpretation, the rest of the Bible must be read with completely different interpretations than those which I have been taught.

When our children are very young, they are, in fact, dependent upon our acceptance of them for their very existence. In healthy bonding, compassion comes from mutual vulnerability, actually feeling the emotions of one another. As the parent's and babies' heartbeats and breaths synchronize with one another,the fussy baby absorbs the parent's inner calm. Quite often the parent gives him or herself over to a new-found innocence and joy.

The old paradigm for parenting was all about control. Babies were supposed to be taught to eat and sleep on strict schedules, bending to the parents' whims and wills. Children were expected to serve their parents, and make them proud of their progeny. In my religious training, we were taught, at the age of five, "God made me to show his goodness, to know him, love him, and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him in the next." God was our master. He might love us later, after we were purified by death, but not now.

When my children were small, a neighbor continued to talk about her children's childhoods as "the magic years." This was very interesting to me, as her children seemed to always be sick, but they were also allowed to dance and sing on the coffee table. She seemed torn between her duties as a wife and mother and her desire to allow her children to continue being their most magical selves. She was always stressed, but she kept trying to nurture the magic of her family. She is also the woman who taught the young woman in the beginning of this tale that praying is sitting under a tree listening to God.

When we are bonded to our children in mutual vulnerability, our sadness doesn't have to be transformed into anger to affect them. Just as we are saddened by their sadness, they are saddened by ours. It may take longer to affect desired change, but when we ask for change for their own growth and goodness, we are willing to wait and watch, hoping they will return to us. Anger simply asserts control, and often leads to secret rebellion. Compassion leads to patient prayer while we wait and watch at the gate.

When I was six and still had some magic in my soul, I cried because my sins hurt "little Baby Jesus." I was then taught that I was to be sorry for my sins because they made God mad and would lead to my being banished forever. I am so happy that fathers are now learning to bond with their babies; maybe we'll begin to understand patiently waiting for the return to the magic made by mutual vulnerability, what I call "love."

1 comment:

  1. I have known many folk raised different than I. But I think you and I must have been on opposite ends of the spectrum.
    From our upbringing we bring a different view of childhood. I don't ever remember making baby Jesus sad by my sins. I remember the little pictures of happy children on Jesus's lap.

    But you are right, sad is not the same as being mad.

    Your childhood brings a different perspective to me. One I have never encountered. It is amazing the different families in this world. I have often wondered what it would be like to be raised in an forested Indian village or a village on the Congo.
    I find it impossible. I have to live with what I know and have experienced. BUT I do like to learn.