A good indicator is to scroll through your social media feed. What are you sharing the most in public? Perhaps it’s something that you use as a social barometer to measure yourself up against others.
Maybe, for you, it’s going to church every Sunday and saying however many rosaries your favorite nun from childhood assigned you.
But due to our secular times, this is likely not the case. It’s surely not for me.
Maybe it looks like yoga, Soul Cycle, veganism, an Ivy League degree, your zip code, the size of your house, your sexual endeavors, your vaccination/anti-vax views, your impeccable morning routine, social activism, conservatism, progressivism, patriotism, or the car you drive.
Or maybe it’s a customized smattering of several of them. For me, it’s (1) being a parent (2) my marriage (3) writing (not particularly in that order as the order tends to shift according to the moment).
In order to keep this short entry focused, I’ll bring just one of these more common genres of personal salvation into focus: parenting. As a parent, it’s the one that’s most in my face and the one I tend to stress about the most.
Now, I’ve heard parenting spoken about as, “The most important job you’ll ever have.” I want to focus in on the word ‘job’ here because it speaks to the crux of the American job-like ethos of personal (and now, secular) salvation.
At first glance, this statement can seem virtuous. It’s true… Parenting is an important task — THE most important task, even. We parents have so much responsibility on our shoulders to make sure our kid turns out to be a good, confident, happy, healthy, contributive, tax-paying, kind and caring citizen.
But with parenting viewed as a ‘job’, I get into the world of expectations from stakeholders — even performance reviews. I have to show my worth, demonstrate my value-add, and churn out a healthy ROI.
Do you see what’s happening?
If I view parenting as a j-o-b, suddenly, my kid stops being her own unique human soul hand-crafted by God and becomes a human product of my shaping.
It’s all on me to make this kid into something I can show to management (via shared photos and stories on social media). And taking this to a deeper, more ontological level, it becomes my personal salvation project to demonstrate my enoughness in the world. My ‘performance’ (now measurable by various standards) becomes a way to justify my very existence (and judge others).
This is toxic.
This is why I look to my faith to serve and inform my personal salvation projects. Because without my faith, there is no grace in secular personal salvation projects. All I have there is human judgment. I need the Gospel to tell me that I am loved, forgiven, and freed — as is Rory, full-stop.
Rory is not my j-o-b. Who Rory turns out to be cannot be my sole responsibility. I cannot take credit or blame for how God is shaping her life. All of it is grace. Anything conditional coming from me is an egoic illusion.
Yes, I’ll do my best. Yes, I’m a helicopter dad of the highest order. But I’ve been graced with the insight (that I so often forget) that my enoughness doesn’t rest on my performance in that area of life. And neither does hers.
With eyes that look through this Christian faith, my personal salvation project(s) come crashing down. Because my salvation — my ‘enoughness’ — has been established long before I breathed my first breath and Rory breathed hers. I can hold my ‘projects’ with a lighter grip. I can let grace in and allow something beyond my pride and fear grab the wheel.
So do your Crossfit. Share photos of your Impossible Burger on social media. Build that dream home and give me the step-by-step in your Instagram stories. But know that none of it matters one iota to your worth in anything but petty human terms.
You are enough… You were born enough, you will live as enough, and you will die enough — no matter what illusions you’ve taken as true and placed in front of that reality.
My prayer is this… As our personal salvation projects fail to deliver the false fruits our inner accuser offers, may we know the truth. And in that moment, may despair be replaced with a smile as our personal salvation projects dissolve and become fun things to do as we live enjoying our ultimate enoughness, which has nothing to do with you or me.
This post was previously published on A Sacramental Life and is republished here with permission from the author.
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