What Do Your Want with all Your Heart?
What Do Your Want with all Your Heart?
Seeds of the Word (Week 3 of 11)
In the Gospel of John, Jesus turns on two young men who are following him and asks, “What do you want?” It’s an indispensably important question. Many people go through life not really knowing what they most fundamentally want, and accordingly, they drift. The correct answer to Jesus’ question is “eternal life” or “friendship with God” or “holiness.” — Seeds of the Word, (Moneyball and Spiritual Leadership, Paragraph 5).
This is clearly a different kind of book and requires a different kind of post. Every chapter deals with its own subject, with varying genres of movies and unique insights into the human condition. But I still felt the above quote applied pretty much to every movie Barron discussed in this past week’s assignment.
As a whole, I will admit there were very few characters in these movies to whom I could relate, if any. Whether Mattie and her passion for revenge in True Grit, priests battling satan in the physical realm in The Exorcist or The Rite, Will Rodman’s compromise of means in search of the ends in The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I pretty much sat transfixed in disbelief at many of the characters and their antics. In fact, were it not for others in the room, I wouldn’t have even finished some of these movies, I found them so appalling. The Ides of March was one of these. A passionate follower of politics, I assumed I would enjoy the plot; but I was left extremely disappointed, appalled by the behaviors exhibited by most of the characters. Between the language, the backstabbing and calculated coldness, I thought, “Who in their right mind would do any of these things?!” Barron answered the question. People who wrap their lives around everything But God – whose decisions were centered around the idolatry of power, prestige and money.
The problem with greed, idolatry, worldly intentions, and any other twisted use of our free will is a profound disconnect from a correct response to one of the only questions that really matter: What do you want?
On the other hand, the ability to answer that question correctly, and to answer it from the depths of the human soul with a profound commitment to the Truth, is what allowed the Trappist Monks of Tibhirine – so beautifully depicted in Of Gods and Men – to exhibit such inspirational courage and spiritual strength in the face of unconscionable evil. Ultimately, knowing and living out the answer to that question – What do you want? – can provide us with a freedom and peace the likes of which we cannot possibly imagine.
Speaking for myself, I started reading through this material with a sort of smug understanding of what most of these characters were missing. When I read the poignant question Barron mentioned when discussing leadership in the movie, Moneyball, I thought, of course that’s the central question – frankly, I even caved to that “inner pharisee” – thank God I’m not like those people.
But after mulling things over a bit, I realized these flawed characters probably aren’t any more flawed than I am. I mean, maybe they don’t even know the question, much less the answer to one of life’s most important questions. Sadly, I do know the question, but when it counts, I often don’t even think about the answer.
Sure, I know the answer when the stakes are high. I mean, when push comes to shove, I know that eternal life is the deepest desire of my heart (not to say I would be able to follow the example of those amazing monks). But when you think about it, how virtuous is my decision to hand over to God those things that are clearly beyond my control? In leaning toward trust when there is no where else to lean? The truth is, I often don’t “lean” in areas where I most need to maintain my sense of peace – the “little” areas, where a modicum of peace would be most useful to my vocation as a wife, a mother, or my role as daughter, sister…friend.
And it shows. Sadly, even my children recognize that most of the calm, humility and grace exhibited by me are limited to things beyond my control. Case in point, a few months ago, my oldest son had his first car accident. When I got the phone call, I remained surprisingly calm. That feeling of calm brought back memories from when he was three years old and woke one Saturday morning unable to stand or walk. What I remember most about that morning was not desperation and fear. I remember the feeling of calm acceptance. Of resignation to the Will of God. I drove to the emergency room thinking, It’s OK. God will take care of him. If he’s handicapped, God will help us through it. We’ll be fine. Our son would be fine. I had no fear. In that case as well as the more recent example, things turned out fine in the end. No permanent damage. But before either outcome was known, I felt at peace. I felt God with me, ready to carry any burden, to help our family through any storm.
So what is the problem? Well, on the night of the car accident my son shared quite the insight with my sister, who happened to be at our house. When all was said and done, she asked my son, “So, did your mom freak out?” He said, “No, she never freaks out over the big things. She just gets worked up over all the little things.”
While I read about many of these characters thinking, of course I would choose differently, the truth is that my actions rarely reflect an appreciation for eternity when it comes to the little things in life. Those things over which I tend to get really “worked up”. Things like, something interrupting my schedule, or a child who just won’t cooperate. Or the sense of being overwhelmed by too many obligations; of not doing well enough in my vocation as a mother.
I may not lie, cheat and steal; but I have been known to be prideful; to lose my temper; to throw up my hands in despair; to begrudge the world for all those little crosses that swarm around like pesky flies as I frantically bat them away.
In those “small” moments, I don’t even think about the question. At those times I’m so busy trying to manage (control) all of life’s little pieces and parts that I forget that the Great God of the universe had my eternal life in mind when he offered all those opportunities for my sanctification. Every one of them. He isn’t merely holding my hand when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). He holds my hand and guides me through the minefields of daily life. And every one of those moments, too, is meant to lead me to what I want the most. That means I can rest in the peace of Christ through those small moments just as completely as I do the “big” ones.
If you read all these chapters and felt that you couldn’t relate, but you know you have issues over all life’s “little” challenges, I invite you to resolve with me to embrace all crosses, whether big or small. Let us extend our gratitude for every opportunity we have to pursue what it is that we want most. Let us always remember, at every moment, the answer to that poignant question Christ so wisely asked of His apostles: What do you want?
And in those moments when find ourselves most likely to lose sight of the endgame [for example, when we’re busy trying to type that last word or finish the last piece of some project and a child gets out of bed for the third time (as mine just did)] let us make a special effort to accept them…each and every one of those very small but meaningful moments, as gifts meant to lead us to what we want most – Eternal life.
Viva El Christo Rey! – World War Z and the Council of Trent
1. Have you seen any of the movies in this past week’s assignment? If so, what did you think of Bishop Barron’s commentary? Do you struggle with the question? If so, what is it that causes you to struggle the most?
2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!
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