Being a Giant

     One of the hardest things anyone has said to me was spoken by an older family member: “After you have your children, you can get back to doing really important things.”
     Another older family member was speaking to me about a young adult in our family.  He said: “She is going to be a giant–her life is coming together and people far and wide will hear from her.”
    I thought: “Am I not a giant because I work in my home, and yet she will be if she becomes famous?”
    Both of these family members of mine have a measuring stick by which to evaluate lives that emphasizes making a social impact.   Closely tied to this priority is a certain kind of fame: after all, who makes a social impact without a podium, a committee, a reputation?
     Years ago, I laid down that measuring stick (clearly the one most commonly used in my family of origin) and picked up one articulated by St. John of the Cross: “In the eve of life, we will be judged on love.”  He was summarizing the message he heard in the Gospels.
     John’s claim made such a profound impact on me that I almost did not complete my dissertation, which I was working on at the time.  In fact, I flunked my defense, and had to redo parts of my work–a shameful end to graduate studies.   But it was the price I was willing to pay for the new direction of my life: the love of God and family.  I have chosen not to pursue many things that I could pursue, in order to prioritize love.  A friend of the family said to me yesterday: “You could be doing so many other things–I am intrigued by your choices!”  It feels so true.  It feels like a wild risk, a gamble.  No one can do everything–choices must be made.
     It is my strong belief that paths that might appear “better” to some are actually worse: certainly this is the case if John of the Cross is correct about his reading of the Gospels.
     Today I heard the passage: “Jesus is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone,” (Acts 4:8).  
     In order to be a true follower of Christ, one must let go of measuring sticks that are not corroborated by the Scriptures.  One must retire family members who had been role models or parenting figures from those positions in our minds.  When we do, they might reject us.  Bur that is okay; we need to see them in a new way: not as leaders, but as ones to pray for that they might find the Truth of God for their lives–that they are richly and deeply loved by God, that they are lavishly cared for by their heavenly family, and that in turn, as children of His family, all of us are called to live out that same kind of lavish love.  We are called to be giants of love, having gigantic love for the poor, gigantic love for those in our lives, gigantic love for those most in need of mercy.  No one must see these efforts for them to be on a giant scale: they can be in the privacy of one’s room, praying before the throne of God.
     Jesus was a giant of love: being rejected by some, He stayed true to his calling from the Father, and emboldened by the Spirit, He lived out a radical love.  His choices appeared senseless and insignificant to many–so poorly calculated!  Abandoning all political leverage!  But His choices allowed Him to become a portal through which the power and mercy of Heaven poured out and covered the earth, changing us all forever.
     Let Christ the Judge tell you in the eve of your life whether you became a giant or not.