“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.” ― George MacDonald
The two mysteries of faith that lead me into existential dizziness whenever I begin to reflect on them are (1) God has no origin, beginning or source, other than Himself [can’t think on this longer than a minute or so without brain shut-down], and (2) when my spiritual soul came into existence at the moment of conception, ex nihilo, “out of nothing,” God thought specifically of me in that creative act of His infinite mind. As a priest once said to me, as he was trying to encourage me in the face of deep despondency to return to a primal sense of gratitude for simply existing, “When you were conceived, God said ‘Let there be Tom.’ And in you a whole new universe came to be that will never cease to be. Think of the pinpoint intentionality of that act of love. Bathe in it.”
In fact, when I was 8 or 9 years old I recall vividly having a “freak out” moment every time I thought about the fact that I was me, Tom, that I had a completely unique vantage that was me, and wondered what that even meant. Still can’t think on that one for long.
I always quote Pope Benedict to this effect, “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” If we owned that truth, it would mark a revolution. 15th century German Dominican, Meister Eckhart, wrote profoundly about a form of mysticism that was a journey into the mind of God, back into the original and eternal thought of God out of which I emerged. Of course, this is really nothing more than the essence of vocational discernment: “Who am I in you, O God?” Once we know who we are, we then know who we should be.
I once was invited to attend a Foster Parent Conference in Tallahassee years ago, and heard this amazing African American woman, somewhere in her 70’s, speak about the decades of service she and her husband had offered to orphaned children in Florida. She was Baptist and very vocal about her faith. She told us so many powerful stories, but I remember especially a line she spoke to all parents in the audience. She said,
You see, one thing we see again and again with these foster children is that they feel like a burden, unwanted. Many of them have heard, “I wish you were never born!” And they act out. But God has given you parents a great task! Do you hear me? [All: Yes!] I need you to see what I see, that He’s entrusted you with a most solemn responsibility. Greater than any other one in the whole of creation. He wants you to be Him for His children. Yes, I said His children, only on loan to you, stewards of His greatest treasures.
So you have to ask God every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep, “Father, what’s your dream for this baby? Who did you make him, make her to be? What message are they to bring the world that no one else ever could?” Let them know they are so special, unique, unlike anyone else that every lived or will live. But that’s not enough! Make them know well that with this gift comes great, great responsibility. Hold them accountable, challenge them, inspire them to be God’s dream for them. Help them discover God’s dream and run with it.
But first, you have to believe it about yourself or you’ll just pass along the hurt.