Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Letting Go of Efficiency

It’s a Friday morning and time to run errands in the big city. Before we leave the house, I cycle through the various routes, selecting the most efficient option. Our departure time is calculated carefully, accounting for bathroom breaks, finding shoes, and getting out the door. Along the way, seconds are shaved off our travel time as I select the best lane, optimal cruise speed, and manuever around slower traffic.

This is how my mind works, always working for optimization. I plan, recompute, and adjust my day to get things done in the best possible way. It just happens. For most things, that’s fine. We safely and efficiently move through our errands, check tasks off of my list, and get more stuff done.

In parenting, efficiency isn’t always the right choice.

I can clean the kitchen, wash the cars, and reorganize my closet with speed and precision on my own, but should I? Shouldn’t I let my two-year old pull dishes out of the clean dishwasher, one at a time, at random, instead of insisting on pulling out entire category groups? She’s so gleeful to help.

I can go to the office and knock out an hour’s worth of work in 45 minutes, but shouldn’t I take my son along with me to check out an airplane, and play with his LEGOs while I work? He’ll ask questions, share his thoughts, and slow me down. It’s not efficient, but is it better?

I can wash a car in 90 minutes, getting it to showroom perfection, but shouldn’t I let my daughter pick up the hose and go a little crazy? Shouldn’t I hand her the wash mit and let her take some of the dirt off of the car, too?

We all remember that point in time when we realized that our parents were their own people. They have their own thoughts, needs, hopes, and dreams. As children, our minds weren’t able to comprehend that others have the same desires that we have. Now on the other side of that equation, I can see into my children’s minds, but they cannot yet see into mine.

I’m a very efficient person, but when it comes to each day and each task, it’s okay if I invite my children into my world, and I perform at a level just a few notches below peak.

Pause

I’m back from summer vacation, a whole week experiencing Northern Michigan. It was a great reprieve from the heat, and a chance to go to places that I’ve never been to before.

When I clocked out last week, I made the intentional choice to step away from my work. I didn’t check my email while I was away, or shoe-horn in any work related tasks. I did use the downtime to get some other priorities checked off my list.

It was not easy at first, and I knew I was storing up a massive backlog when I returned. But my choice was simple: vacation means vacation. Permission to not think about work, do work, or worry about work. I was free to be in the moment, say yes to most activities, and to recharge my batteries.

Now that I’m back, I’m back. Although I’m now overrun with projects, emails, and to-dos, I’m delighted that I gave myself the gift of a pause.

Worth Celebrating

At every point in our Nation’s life, all 246 years, there have been voices predicting its imminent collapse. There’s no doubt that we have struggled in this unique experiment of human governance. Never has a group of people as diverse as our population come together and governed for so long with such prosperity. It’s never happened before, and therefore, some conclude it can never survive.

Yet, from our humble beginnings, we built a nation of innovation. A technological, economic, and military powerhouse with the ability to set the world order. With this great power and influence, we chose to use it for good, for the advancement of humanity, not our self-interest.

Throughout these years, we’ve made many mistakes. As we crafted our laws, which inform the morality of our population, we wrongly denied basic human rights to ethic groups. We separated child and people in communal spaces, we warred with one another, and we even, for a while, pretended that the Constitution didn’t guarantee fundamental rights to all people.
Despite our errs, our democracy has shown a remarkable propensity for self-healing. Without need of external military intervention, we demolished the institution of slavery, broke down the barriers of segregation, and revoked the flawed logic that said that some lives weren’t worth living.

The voices of despair rise and fall, and we hear them daily today. But they look at a narrow window of our nation’s history, a snapshot in time that fails to capture the stunning progress that we’ve made. We are a flawed people, but despite our shortcomings and mistakes, we still seek to build a more perfect union.

The Work Begins

For 49 years, our voice on the fundamental issue for society was silenced. A contrived legal theory, enshrined in precedent, permitted a mother, with few limits, to take the life of her child for any reason. Just not a theory, but a position that argued that it was as the framers of the Constitution intended. We marched, we prayed, we did the work, and had our rights finally restored.

Like the return of Aslan to Narnia, the cold, brutal grip of the White Witch is broken, but her power is not destroyed. The question of the morality and legality of abortion is again up for debate, and now we must begin the hard work of winning hearts and minds.

We live in a society where people violently question the legitimacy of our legal system because things didn’t go their way. They lost, and now they want to change the rules. Deeper than that is the rage at the notion that mothers shouldn’t be permitted the right to kill their child; that a child has fundamental worth that ought to be protected.

The landscape has changed, and the people in every state must now determine how they wish to live. It’s true that with Roe overturned, many states will enact statutes that allow unlimited abortion, on demand, until the moment of life. In others, abortion will be completely outlawed. Many states will land in between.

Polls tell us that abortion is broadly accepted, and the overwhelming majority of Americans think that contraceptives, abortifacient by design, are morally acceptable. Yet, these same people seem baffled at why racism, sexism, and violence abounds in our communities. You cannot chip away at the integrity of the human person, with carveouts and exceptions, and not expect contagion to follow.

Our message, from the very beginning, is so simple that we teach it to kindergartners. Every person has value and is worth protecting. Now if only we can get our society to internalize it.

Fathers for Good

God’s plan of salvation for the World contains essential truths and profound beauty. He chose man to be held in esteem above all other beings in the created world, including His angels. He desires an intimate relationship with each one of us, and freely chooses to share His power with us.

God decided to share creative powers with man. He created Adam and Eve, but every human since came into the world only through the consent of humanity. Even when it was time to bring Jesus into the world, it required Mary’s fiat to bring salvation history to completion.

Throughout the Old Testament, God worked through families. Through the family of Abraham, God reveled Himself to the world, and opened the door to reconciliation from the Fall. Through the family of David, His installed Jesus on the throne of the universe, reconciling the world to Himself. Through the family of the Church is the treasury of graces, opening the gates of Heaven to all mankind.

God not only shares His creative powers with man, but also His title. God the Father is the first person of the Holy Trinity, and He shares that title with those men whom He has entrusted with the care of souls.

Fatherhood is not an easy path, especially with the traits that men share. We are not as nurturing or innately understanding of the workings of a child, but our presence is irreplaceable. The love of a father propels a child into the world with self-confidence and courage.

In one or two generations, our names and stories will be forgotten. We will become the subject of the family’s genealogist, mapping out a family history, a name on a paper with a few dates. A father’s contribution is not for honor or praise, but of humble service to his family. He quietly toils, with mistakes made daily, working towards the harvest of a well-rounded human. Though we forget his name, the transformational gift of love, passed from generation to generation, is his legacy.

God has shared with us His power and His title, may we strive to be worthy of the gift.