Thursday, May 29, 2008

being with vs. doing for

John and I ate lunch together today. Often, I give him lunch and later fix my own, but today I made almond butter sandwiches for both of us. It was pleasant eating lunch with him, even though we didn't say much and we sometimes didn't understand what the other one said.

More and more, John is becoming the companion I'd imagined our child would be. See, I knew that having a child would involve a lot of doing for him, but I pictured it more as someone to be with. I find I am a much happier mother when the being-with to doing-for ratio reaches a certain level. I'm sure that is partly because of my own selfishness, but I think that any relationship needs to have a balance between being-with and doing-for.

It surprised me that I had trouble with the high doing-for component of motherhood because in seminary, I came to see that the doing-for part of ministry was easier for me than the being-with part. That is, it was reassuring to know that I was needed, that I had something to give. Peer relationships sometimes were more difficult than being, for example, the church intern teaching Sunday School. I had to learn that I was a person in need of change helping others in need of change (to paraphrase the title of the book our small group is doing now), not a professional people-fixer, exercising my craft like a repairman fixes clocks.

We show love both by spending time with other people and by meeting their needs -- both are essential to intimate relationships. Our relationship with God, too, needs to have both components: not simply asking God to meet our needs, or doing good work for him, but also being his companion.

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