Wednesday, January 25, 2012

P4E.232 Love = Self Sacrifice Part 9

I am the last person who should be writing about self sacrificial love, because I have so little experience. What will follow, then, are humble suggestions; a few from my poor experience and some from my imagination.

My next suggestion for self sacrifice might seem a little obvious, but sometimes you have to state the obvious:

Let others go in front of you. Especially your wife.

The recent tragedy of the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy provided a glimpse of the current Zeitgeist. It is said that the men on-board ship were refusing to allow the women and children to board the lifeboats first and that the captain himself abandoned ship before all others were safely off. This simply would not have happened in a previous time. It speaks volumes about everything from the decline in the expectations of character qualities like honor and decency to the devaluing of women and children. Chivalry does indeed appear to be dead.

It's easy to describe what "letting others go in front of you"  looks like on a daily basis, yet most difficult to execute. Let me paint a scenario. You are driving in the middle lane of traffic. You are only a few car lengths behind the car in front of you and there is a car ahead of you on the right. A car moves past you on the right and you see that, at its speed, there is only one place for the car to go and that's the spare space between you and the car in front of you. What do you do? Sometimes, I confess, I speed up, closing the already small gap between me and the car in front of me, driving dangerously close just to stop the car from getting in front of me. Let me suggest that there is another option. That is, to slow down and let the car safely in front of you. In my better moments, I take the second option.

A more obscure example might be I want to go to a restaurant, but my wife wants me to get take-out and bring it back home. I let her desire go in front of mine.

There are some fairy tales that tickle the imagination having to do with Royalty that sneaks out of the castle to mingle with the peasantry. The fun happens when the peasants treat the Prince like another peasant. It's touching when he, given his real position, serves the other peasants. This is the definition of humility and meekness. When the reality is that one has power, but stays that power, controls it, so that instead of being brute, one is gentle and retiring. Ken Nair uses the analogy of using a car crushing crane to pick up a crystal wine goblet. Jesus' incarnation is the epitome of this ideal.

I say "especially your wife," because we know that familiarity breeds contempt. Husbands wield power in their relationship with their wives that they don't even comprehend. We need to be like the car crushing crane picking up the goblet when it comes to how we spiritually engage with our wives.

We forget that deference is what Christ requires of us. Letting others, especially your wife, go first is an important sign of self-sacrificial love. That is one of the reasons why, to this day, I still open the door for Gwen to get into the car first. Even if we're just going to, or leaving, the grocery store.

More to follow...

No comments:

Post a Comment