Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Writing and a Question

I am working out the rough draft ideas for my paper. I am so happy to be writing again. I have a lot of work ahead of me, however. Research and critical analysis of the text. I need wisdom to do this well.

I am enjoying what I am writing, but am unsure if what I am doing is what the professor wants from me.

This is tricky.

Question I am pondering today (would love to hear your thoughts, please comment!):

It appears that we need to believe ourselves capable of owning and handling our life. I have heard said that parenting is training you child to be independent from you, as is appropriate for the age level of the child.

My question is, once we are adults, what does it mean to hold in tandem complete dependence on God while being appropriately independent and confident that we can meet life as it comes?

Another way to say this may be this: what does it mean to live out this prayer?

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.
In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray, and You, Yourself, pray in me.


Emily H. said...

Little Rose, I don't raise my children to be independent from me, quite opposite, I don't want them to ever stop calling on me. Sure I want them to be able to go to the bathroom by themselves, ect. but I also want them to know that I am there to help, intercede, provide for and love them, in every situation and in every time. I think this is also how it is (to a greater and perfect degree) with Christ God.

elizabeth said...


thanks for your comment.

I can appreciate a parent wanting to be as you describe, and indeed you describe Motherhood beautifully. It is wonderful and beautiful. The Theotokos and her protection speak of this as well.

I think we are on the same page, just articulating the angles from opposite ends.

I can see that there is health interdependance and unhealthy dependance. We need to have in us the knoweldge of our parent's love and support; this can be part of the bedrock from which we move from. But there comes a time in adulthood when, at least in our North American culture, the child leaves home. This child must learn to cook for themselves, do the best work they can at work and not rely on parents to bail them out if they are consistantly irresponsible.

I think part of the pain of parenthood comes from the realization that, as much as we would love to fix every situation or provide in every way or even know how to love them in everyway they need, that we cannot do so. We are too broken for one thing. And there are going to be situations our children are in that we cannot fix or even (fully) provide for.

I have seen that being a parent (I observe as I am single, but I know that my singleness does not discount my understanding) is to have one's heartbroken, at least some of the time. Of course I am speaking as a grown-up child that has seen a lot of tradegy in people's lives, one that a Mother wishes with all of her being that she could of kept her child from experiencing.

The greatest hope we have, you have touched on, and that is that we can pray for them.

Also there comes a time, towards the end of life, that often the child has to take care of the parent and even make decisions on thier behalf.

The mystery of how to be a child, an adult and a servant of God is even greater.

I can see that we are to depend on God at every moment, but yet we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Orthodoxy shows us both sides, but how to understand them and how to work out one's salvation is hard and a journey that takes one's whole life (and perhaps beyond).

The closest answer I can get to this seeming opposite (depend on God, work out your salvation) is in learning to live out the prayer I quoted.

With all of this, of course, I am open to disagreement on or further discussion. I most appreciate your comment. Thank you!

V and E said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, Elizabeth. Your thoughts on parenting are right on. I have seen the results of NOT training your child for adulthood and it's pretty sad. Adult children who were taught that they must turn to mom and dad for everything tend to produce adults with poor problem solving skills and an inability to make decisions for themselves (not to mention other issues).

I don't disagree with Emily, though. There is a delicate balance between trying to ensure that your child trusts you and can depend on you for unconditional love, as well as for their other bodily and basic emotional needs. However, we need to respect their need for personhood, or perhaps a better word might be autonomy.

Anyway, sadly, I don't have time to explore this more at the moment!

Ah...and before my mushy brain forgets...I truly love the Prayer of the Optina Elders. Thanks for posting it, Elizabeth! I used to have it memorized. I need to re-learn it and make sure I say it everyday so I don't forget it again. I think it's a beautiful way of laying out our dependence on God as well as our responsibility for our own actions.

Must go now.


elizabeth said...

Dear E -

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I think your synthasis of the two sides is also what I am seeing. A child moving from the love of the parent, which is a source of security, into independance from the parent. One is more able to become a full adult when they have this love.

As they grow older they need to be able to care for thier bodily needs more and more. Emotionally they will have to mature so that they can live within themselves and live and relate in a healthy way to the world and to others.

Both of these processes towards maturity are done best with both sides of this approach, from what I can understand! Both the move towards independance from and the ability to move well based on a security and love from one's parents.

I am also aware that while these are the ideals and what to work towards, we are also broken and also pass on woundedness to our children. From what I understand of the Orthodox belief regarding origional sin is that sin (which wounds) is not handed down through conception as much as from the wounds of the parents wounding the child.

This is hard but we have hope, which Emily alluded to, in prayer. And the Saints.

It is wonderful to have discussions about this. I need to memorized this prayer too! I am glad we have the church to show us through these prayers, how to live...