What makes a dialogue life determining?

Thoughts related to the fourth commandment
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1. In how many ways do NOT we honor our parents? The rebellious phase often takes place between the 3rd and the 5th years of the formation of a young person. It is when he realizes for the first time that he himself exists on his own. At the tween age of 11-14 comes the second phase of emancipation when the detachment from parental behavioral patterns starts. At the end of adolescence we start to determine those parental behavioral patterns that we consider false and we do not want to follow. At the time of mid-life crisis the situation starts to turn over: the former parent becomes the child and the former child becomes the parent. Jesus emphasized love towards God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-39) instead of respect, as the big commandment.  Love, that is not a fake self-love, creates respect because it loves the other one for what he is and not for our expectations we would like him to be. Let’s love our parents (and we always have a new opportunity for that even if they are not with us any more!) and we will live long on Earth. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

2. Fruits of respect arising from love: how does a determining dialogue develop in our lives? Unconditional love makes us continuously open for the next moment when we can meet a new form of creation. This loving openness is actually not else, but respect. We all can remember one or more such dialogues that have been determining in our lives. Determining dialogues can be absurdly varied. Why is that so? Because in a determining dialogue there are not two but three parties present. The third one is the Holy Spirit, the all-seeing and all-arranging, huge love of our Lord Jesus and the Father. The Father lets us know our lives’ most important messages in the most incredible ways – because He knows well that a significant life-message has to be "presented" to a certain man in a certain moment just in that incredible way in order that he becomes able to receive it. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

3. How can we fulfill the fourth commandment? In a determining dialogue it is determining that we have not determined anything at all during the dialogue but God determines everything. That is if we would like to have determining dialogues in our lives, first we have to learn humility. If we are able to accept the purifying mercy of Jesus we may get closer to represent the Face of Jesus in the world less distorted. If all this has started to take shape in us, we begin to feel that we do not desire to have unnecessary words any more. We long only for the Word of God and for passing it to others. That is how ALL dialogues slowly become determining dialogues in us and around us. The dialogues that we have as parents and also the ones we have as children – with anyone. Because these two, parents and children are in their depth the very same: Jesus. In Jesus we got united with our own parents – and with our children, too. By the grace of our Lord that is how we can fulfil and complete God’s fourth commandment: Honor your father and your mother! (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 


 

Introduction. This season’s essays are written about the Ten Commandments. With regard to the first commandment ("I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.") I wrote about the Christian identity. Interpreting the second and the third commandments („You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.”) I examined the concept of the real honoring of God. Regarding the fourth commandment („Honor your father and your mother!”) I was looking for the answer to what makes a dialogue determining in somebody’s life? The key idea of the answer is the openness to honor other people (e.g. our parents). Thinking over the fifth commandment ("You shall not murder!") I show that there are many ways to commit a murder in our everyday lives, and whom we kill when we are unable to forgive. I also think it over what we must murder to become capable of accepting Jesus.

 

1. In how many ways do NOT we honor our parents?

 

The rebellious phase often takes place between the 3rd and the 5th years of the formation of a young person. It is when he realizes for the first time that he himself exists on his own. The quite frustrating conversions like – "I want to do my laces!" "Great! Try to do it, and I help you!" "I don’t want you to help me!" – do not show that the child would not want to depend on his parents. These are only about that he pushes his independence’s boundaries out continuously. At the tween age of 11-14 comes the second phase of emancipation when the detachment from parental behavioral patterns starts. Slamming the doors on the parents does not mean that the child hates his parents but that he finds his own ways also in planning not only in implementing, but he is still quite uncertain about them. At the end of adolescence we start to determine those parental behavioral patterns that we consider false and we do not want to follow. But there are always such patterns left by our parents whose wealth we benefit in our whole lives from. The joy of the latter ones should overwrite the bitterness of the few undesired patterns. At the time of mid-life crisis the situation starts to turn over: the former parent becomes the child and the former child becomes the parent. A lot of people experience difficulties to see their loved ones turning to helpless infants, not to mention the trauma of death tearing them apart. Although to lovingly attend our parents’ lives all along may prepare us very well for experiencing our own lives’ end with love and dignity – despite of the undignified situations caused by our bodies’ disability. It is hard to forgive ourselves if we realize only after our parents have passed away that we have not told them (or not enough times) how much we had loved them. But the hope of our joint life in the Kingdom of God, the Gospel may always give us consoling good news.

 

Jesus emphasized love towards God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-39) instead of respect, as the big commandment. „All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – said Jesus (Matthew 22:40). Love, that is not a fake self-love, creates respect because it loves the other one for what he is and not for our expectations we would like him to be. Respect does not necessarily creates love. Let’s love our parents (and we always have a new opportunity for that even if they are not with us any more!) and we will live long on Earth. We will have long lives even if our lives will be cut short because a fulfilling life’s real length is much greater than the time we spend here.

 


 

2. Fruits of respect arising from love: how does a determining dialogue develop in our lives?

 

In most of the cases love has conditions. I love him only if…, I love about him only that… etc. Unconditional love is not originated from me myself and it does not love someone according to my expectations but it loves something unconditionally because it is the creation of God. Unconditional love makes us continuously open for the next moment when we can meet a new form of creation. This will become true, regardless whether we consider the novelty good or "bad". Because "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." (Romans 8:28) This loving openness is actually not else, but respect. Let me bring an important example for the fruits of respect arising from love. We all can remember one or more such dialogues that have been determining in our lives (or our dialogue partner said that later about himself).

 

What is a determining dialogue like? In most of the cases a determining dialogue happens at the most unexpected place, in the unlikeliest circumstances, without any advance preparations. It may easily happen that the dialogue partners meet for the first time in that very moment. The dialogue cannot be explained by any special "condition". On the contrary: the dialogue itself creates such a special situation that any of the dialogue partners have not been aware of earlier. In most of the cases the "determining dialogue" is found determining only after weeks, months or years because the real message of the dialogue may grow for weeks, months or years in someone until it produces fruit. In order to ruin almost all our expectations concerning a determining dialogue, let me add that a determining dialogue is very often quite short. It can last for only five minutes. It can be even only two minutes’ long. It can be one single sentence, too. (Of course, there are also such determining dialogues that perfectly meet our stereotypes and expectations about a "serious" and "planned" determining dialogue.)

 

Why are there so many different kinds of determining dialogues? There are a stunning variety of determining dialogues because the point of a determining dialogue is not that who is talking to whom or not where or not about what or not even how long and how prepared they are talking to each other. What is the point then?! The point is that in a determining dialogue there are not two but three parties present. The third one is the Holy Spirit, the all-seeing and all-arranging, huge love of our Lord Jesus and the Father. That is why the dialogue can be so absurdly varied. Because "The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8). In the determining dialogues the endless omnipotence of God, the limitless creativity of His uncreated energy and – yes! – God’s loving great humor is manifested. That is the reason why the Father lets us know our lives’ most important messages in the most incredible ways – because He knows well that a significant life-message has to be "presented" to a certain man in a certain moment just in that incredible way in order that he becomes able to receive it. God’s endless long-suffering and love is manifested in that He does not formulates the message as He means it because in this case we, shockingly guilty, tiny little creations would never understand it, but He prepares His message for us how a mother gives pure milk into her baby child’s mouth. (According to the beautiful description of St. Teresa of Avila, in a deep way of a prayer God’s message does not arrive like mother’s milk does which is not necessary to suck just to swallow but, not asking even that much effort, God puts the milk right in the middle of our stomachs, i.e. entering our souls He changes something essential inside us so that we have not made any efforts for that. This is the determining dialogue in which not a single word is spoken... Let’s stop reading here and let’s think about this! Let’s ask God to enter our souls and restore something there. Anything. Because nothing any better can ever happen to us. Amen.)

 


 

3. How can we fulfill the fourth commandment?

 

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus."
(2Corinthians 4:6)

 

Let me start the answer with the essence of a determining dialogue. In a determining dialogue it is determining that we have not determined anything at all during the dialogue but God determines everything. That is if we would like to have determining dialogues in our lives, first we have to learn humility. Humility to recognize, to accept without hesitation and to implement the will of God. So there is only one necessary thing in a determining dialogue. An undistorted reflection of the Father’s will. How can we reflect it without distorting it? We cannot... Our sins do not let us do so. But if we are able to accept the purifying mercy of Jesus we may get closer to represent the Face of Jesus in the world less distorted. What do we need for that? To be open for everything what is Jesus; everything what is God’s love in the world. Motivation to be good, desire to have Jesus living in us – continuously. This is what creates poverty in us, i.e. that we leave most of the conversations having less than we had before starting it. The thing that we give to the other person during our dialogue is replaced in us by Jesus Himself generously. If all this (through Jesus’ self-giving and resurrecting mercy) has started to take shape in us, we begin to feel that we do not desire to have unnecessary words any more. We long only for the Word of God and for passing it to others. That is how ALL dialogues slowly become determining dialogues in us and around us. The dialogues that we have as parents and also the ones we have as children – with anyone. Because these two, parents and children are in their depth the very same: Jesus. In Jesus we got united with our own parents – and with our children, too. By the grace of our Lord that is how we can fulfil and complete God’s fourth commandment: Honor your father and your mother!

 

The Hungarian version of the part on determining conversations appeared in the "Notebook" student journal of the University of Lutheran Theology in Budapest, Hungary (2019 Summer pages 5 to 10). 

 

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