Category Archives: Article

Find the Difference

I remember looking at magazines as a child and looking at two very similar pictures and being asked to find the differences in the image. Maybe children today aren’t given as many magazines, but a quick search tells me that there are still lots of apps and games that have these same ideas.

From a young age we are encouraged to look for the differences. Circle or click on the ways these things differ. Emphasize what makes them unique. This one has a cloud. That one is missing a fence post.

There is nothing wrong with being unique. There is a children’s book called The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be. And it talks about all the special qualities people bring to the world. The world does need people with different skill sets. It would not be useful if everybody wanted to be a fireman when they grew up. The world needs variety, and people performing different uses. Indeed, heaven is made up of infinite variety! It couldn’t be heaven without it!

“The angels of any one heaven are not together in one place, but are divided into larger and smaller societies in accordance with the differences of the good of love and faith in which they are, those who are in like good forming one society. Goods in the heavens are in infinite variety, and every single angel is as his own good.” (Heaven and Hell 41)

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Teach Me To Remain Humble

In New Church education remains is a sort of buzzword amongst teachers, parents, and ministers. There are entire books written on the importance of remains and education. I invite you to consider whether educators or any people for that matter, actually contribute to remains being implanted. If the answer is yes, how can teachers ensure they are giving their students the best access to remains? If the answer is no, and it is the Lord alone who gives us remains, why is this topic so heavily emphasized in discussions of New Church education? 

Let’s start by discarding some common misconceptions about remains or remnants. Some people think that remains are simply good memories preserved from our childhood such as a warm hug from a parent, dancing in the rain, the sun on a warm summer day. Though these are nice ideas and happy memories they don’t really encapsulate what remains are. Remains are far more than good memories, they are “…everything good and true that the Lord insinuates into man from infancy even to the end of his life” (Arcana Coelestia 2280:1). We can see from this that remains are not limited to childhood, in fact later in this passage it is explained that the best remains are the ones we receive as adults. This teaching is not included to undermine the importance of childhood remains but to remind us that they are the foundation for better future remains. 

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Homemaker’s Syndrome

“Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you: NOTHING.” I remember saying this when I was a young girl. (If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might recall my relating this in another article, earlier this year.) Many people’s eyes widen in disbelief when I relate this story to them, but I quickly reassure them – and you – that those simple words didn’t mean that I thought she was a nobody, that I didn’t respect her or that I wanted to grow up just to stay home and watch television and eat candies all day. I was expressing the desires of my heart: not be be a career woman, but to be a MOM, just like her. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to do that! I’d wanted more kids than just one, but I’m blessed to have the one I’ve got and to have been able – ‘allowed’ – to stay home with him throughout his childhood and now into his teenage years. I joke these days about the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mom but that my charge is in school! I still relish being a home-maker, filling my days with a variety of activities from taking care of my family to volunteering my time in different ways, among other odds-and-ends endeavours. I feel ‘retired’ before my time, and I’m loving it.

Not having a career or even a defined regular routine, however, sets me up for deep frustration and discouragement sometimes: I call it ‘Homemaker’s Syndrome’. I do so much and yet feel like I accomplish so little. I fill my days with busy-ness and yet have ‘nothing’ to show for it. Reflecting on my daily life, I know, intellectually, that I provide invaluable service, but it doesn’t feel like it, in my heart. Those times are so demoralising.

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Enough or Too Much

I used to feel–and sort of unconsciously believe–that to be a successful parent was to be so in tune, so attentive, so on top of the perfect planning and management that my kids would never get too upset, too hungry, too tired, too frustrated, too overwhelmed on any level.  That if I was a good parent I would be able to prevent massive fights, blow ups, or any other kind of meltdown by anticipating each child’s needs managing it for them before any falling apart happened.  So any big emotions that were overwhelming were my fault.  I thought that any difficult dynamics that escalated to the point of bad behaviour were because I had been selfish and not met that child’s needs appropriately in time (maybe I kept reading the end of the chapter of a book instead of getting snacks served up).  It’s not that they weren’t supposed to experience negative emotions but more (as I, then mistakenly held it) that they shouldn’t ever be in a position of TOO much.  Or not enough either.  And it was my job to prevent anything that went too far off either end of the spectrum.

One of the problems with this outlook was that I was constantly failing, and that is exhausting.  More troubling was that I had a sense that my failure was because I was selfishly putting my own needs first, that I was stubbornly unwilling to exert just a little more energy and a little more focus, but that I could fix things if only I could push myself a little harder.  Circularly my failure to prevent the distress for my kids and my feeling that I could have if only I’d given my time and energy more freely (and somehow had no needs of my own) added fuel to the fire of negative self perception. And it allowed us to develop unhelpful boundaries.  In a sense I was enabling their behaviour in that I wasn’t helping them to develop the skills they needed to self assess what was happening within and around them, and allow them to better manage the same situation when it arose another time.  

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