“On Being Stuck with Our Parents”

This excerpt is the first few paragraphs from the essay “On Being Stuck with Our Parents: Learning to Die in Christ.”

The title’s suggestion that we are stuck with our parents may offend some readers. We do not like to think of ourselves as being stuck with each other, not even those we love. Why? Perhaps because our culture teaches us that the only things worth having are those we freely choose; we are taught to believe that our will and our freedom are basic to our being. But our parents and our children are precisely the people we do not first of all choose.

Stuckness is an apt label not only for our family ties; it also characterises much about our other relationships. We are stuck with our co-workers, our neighbours, our fellow citizens, the other inhabitants of the planet. We are also stuck with ourselves – our bodies, our minds, our aptitudes, and our deficiencies. We can alter our attributes in minor ways but not substantially. Above all, we are stuck with our finitude, our creatureliness.

For Christians, this is to state the obvious: we are created beings. We are beholden to another; we are stuck with God. Our free will is not basic to our being. If it were, we would will to live forever. What is basic is the givenness, the gift, of our existence. We did not give ourselves life; even our parents did not will us into being. We were given life by Go and are asked to receive it in praise.

As Christians, we are called to imagine both life and death under God. Only then can we learn how to live our lives as given and taken by the One who wills to save us. And as we look to Jesus Christ, we see a life that can be made visible in our own bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10). As we listen to our Messiah, we hear an invitation to become like him in his death (Philippians 3:10). To discover the meaning of these words is the challenge before us. – Echoes of the Word, 167

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