Saturday, July 17, 2010

childish reflexes

Working with my children the other day, it occurred to me that we have two sets of reflexes that are "naturally" bent-- one in the sense of omission; the other in the sense of commission.

On the one hand, my children are quick, by reflex, to respond to some injustice or pain done to them. And so, they respond with an unkind word or an act of (often greater) retaliation.

Our counsel in such cases is to squelch the existing reflex-- think before talking or acting, let it go (especially in the case of an accident), seek outside help (from us) if they have been significantly wronged and do not get proper redress.

On the other hand, my children are generally slow to apologize. (They are often quick to defend themselves-- independent of guilt or even ill motive-- but this takes us back to the first reflex above.) Even when they do something accidentally-- for example, stepping on my foot-- they don't (yet) reflexively say "I'm sorry".

Our counsel in such cases is to develop the appropriate reflex-- empathize with those you've harmed, make restitution as relevant, look to change habits to avoid repeating the offense.

Of course, the punchline is that I am quite capable of such childish reflexes (or their absence). Through the changes wrought in me by God's grace, my apprenticeship to Jesus Christ, and the empowerment of Holy Spirit, I am generally able to overcome the reflexes of the sinful nature. But they continue to fight for a presence and even a preeminence in my daily life.

Thanks be to God for His merciful forgiveness and His gracious provision!


At July 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM , Blogger Dave said...

The whole forgiveness thing reminds me of C.S. Lewis' "forgiveness" chapter in "Mere Christianity". He said "Love your neighbor does not mean feel fond of him..."(and then he goes on to compare our self-love to loving others). "My self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief." Perhaps I should share this Lewis thought with my own kids?

At July 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Another Lewis quote on this:

There's another that I can't find on the blog-- something about the apparent incoherence of hating the sin and loving the sinner, until he realized that he did it all of the time...with himself!


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