Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Love You More Than a Vase Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Love You More Than a Vase Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Several friends of mine have recently had to oversee the settling of their parents' estates. To their surprise, they became very stirred up when it came time to divide up personal effects among their siblings. Unfamiliar feelings of rivalry, possessiveness, anger, and hurt feelings surfaced, threatening to create serious rifts in the family.

As they tried to get past these feelings, they found themselves being self-righteous, and this got in their way. Self-righteousness and healing are incompatible. God has a way to restore harmony in the family, but self-righteousness needs to go in the process.

When talking with one of these people, I was reminded of something that happened a few years ago. My wife and I were visiting a longtime friend, along with another couple who had a toddler. It was a lovely afternoon, but we were in one of the most unbabyproofed houses around. Lovely antique porcelain horses covered the low coffee table. Other valuable pieces could be seen everywhere. They sure caught the toddler's eye. His parents kept a firm, nervous watch on him, snapping him up every time he reached for another "toy." Our friend told them not to worry. But it was hard for them not to. When they pulled their son away once again from the low-lying table, our friend spoke up. "Stop it. When I grew up, my mother told me, 'There isn't a material thing in the world that is worth a child's tears.' Now everything is going to be all right." And it was. The tension dissolved, and the visit was a success. What our friend had said, in effect, was, "I love you more than this vase." That was genuine love. It restored harmony and brought the whole afternoon under God's law of order. When we place our happiness in material things, then our happiness is as fragile as those things. The Bible gives the history of Jacob. His greed led him to cheat and defraud his brother, Esau. But instead of ending up with happiness or satisfaction, Jacob had to flee for his life. His angry brother vowed to kill him. Many years later, after considerable spiritual reformation, Jacob was reconciled with his brother. …

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