Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sacrifice vs. Selfishness

For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. - Mat. 16:25

I had an actress who was dating a man with a serious mental condition - a form of psychosis that causes lifelong problems.  They were shacking up.

While she was on tour with me, he let the dog out of the yard.  He did this by not being attentive - a simple mistake, and one that guys often make and that gals rightly get furious over.  The dog was missing for about 24 hours.  The actress was very worried - but every time she talked to the boyfriend on the phone, she was very careful not to blame him for the very thing that was simply his fault.  She was afraid her being real with him would cause him to slide into some sort of a psychotic episode.

Some relationship, huh?

They eventually got married.

What kind of marriage, I wondered, can be based on such unreality?  On accommodating such a large elephant in the living room and pretending it's not there?

***

I should not mention elephant and obesity in the same breath, but my marriage has suffered from a similar Unreality.

My wife Karen badly needs to lose weight.  It's becoming a major health issue for her.  And yet for all of these years the kids and I have treated her as if she were a psychotic who had let the dog out and who'd go crazy if we simply said, "Why did you let the dog out?"

I am, finally, confronting the issue - and helping her to.  It's not easy, but all along the family has been afraid - but he that will save his wife shall lose her, and he that shall lose his wife for His sake shall find her.

***

It's when we compromise, when we fudge things so that we won't take the risk of losing them, that we turn around and find we've lost the very thing we were trying to clutch onto and make our own.

The words of Our Lord are true in a religious and sacrificial sense, and deeply true psychologically.

In fact it may even be said more bluntly: the only way to find life is to sacrifice it.

***

Meanwhile, it is never easy for men and women to communicate ...



5 comments:

Kathy said...

Thank you, Kevin, for having the courage to say something and be willing to help your beloved wife.
I lost my mother 2 years ago at the young age of 67 because of her obesity related illnesses. We quit bringing up the subject with her because the times we did, "Hey, Mom. I'm going for a walk, wanna come with?" She would give us an excuse and we'dlet her off the hook.

Don't let your wife quit. She'll hate the process, and maybe you sometimes, but keep after her. Do all of it in kindness and love and she'll thank you later.

Del said...

I enjoyed following Sean Dailey's blog journaling his weight-loss. He made it an adventure. And he was quite successful, while he stuck with the program.

You two might talk with Sean about living the challenge of weight loss. You might even inspire Sean to take it off again.

blairscove said...

Liked your idea of integration. I've always considered it as being integrated with God as in my mind following the Father's will, my emotions following the Spirit's lead and then of course my body following the example of the perfectly integrated person of Christ. I guess that would be the same as following the Church as you've stated.

Anyway good musings and I especially like your replay recently of an 1800 writer on an EWTN "Coming Home" segment.

Tom Leith said...

The trouble with "integrated" as a term is that it will be confused with "Integrist" which in the late 19th century had a pretty definite meaning especially in France and Spain, but now is used as a pejorative term, especially in North America. Do a web search on "Stephen Hand" integrist to see what I mean. But be warned, you probably don't want to.

A LOOOONG time ago I saw a diagram that represented the "orthodox" attitude as moving a person towards the bulls-eye of The Catholic Target (i.e. The Gospel of OLJC in all its fullness and its logical consequences as proposed by the Church as true). Anyone on some other path lacked an "orthodox" attitude.

Liking handy, alliterative labels, I called Catholics with an "orthodox" attitude Centripetal Catholics, and those with some other attitude, no matter what it was, Centrifugal Catholics. I still like my (admittedly idiosyncratic) terms because they avoid the "left/right" "progressive/conservative" and "modernist/integrist" fights, and allow space for personal development in the Faith.

There are infinitely many angles from which to approach The Catholic Bull's Eye, and infinitely many angles by which you can miss it, but so long as you're oriented towards it you're not "attitudinally wrong" even if you're wrong about this or that (for the time being). Chesterton's image of Orthodoxy as a high-wire act is very similar.

FWIW

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thus, concupiscence would be a kind of "centrifugal force".