Structure vs force: love and elearning

The second week of distance learning in St. Paul starts today. Last week was HARD. Not because the work was hard or the expectations too high, but because having to be all things to all people brings out the worst in me. My kids are used to being accountable to a teacher for their school work, and taking their cues from the class on when to focus and when to be silly. They aren’t used to getting all that structure from me and frankly don’t want me all up in their business.

But the distance learning app is confusing, and I’m afraid they’re missing things (which they 100% are). I’m afraid they’ll never learn organization if they don’t start out strong now. I’m afraid if my son can’t focus long enough to make a to-do list for the day he’s doomed. My anxiety lays the stage, and my narcissism marches in: I alone can fix this. They need me to rescue them from mediocrity? I don’t know. I just know it’s hard, and I’m bringing in years of future projections and fears into this present moment and making things harder. So here’s what I found from Father Clay:

Love Power

Love is the most powerful thing in the whole world. But love isn’t successful in the short-run. What can God do? God cries with us and suffers with us. Those who are parents with children know that you can’t make their way smooth all the time, can you? They are going to make mistakes and be wrong and do destructive things. All you can do is cry and hurt and suffer with them, and continue to love them through the whole mess.

That’s an example of how God works. I think when God sees the hurts and destructive messes, God cries and God suffers and God is in pain. That’s what love is. We can draw a couple of practical conclusions from this. We can look at ourselves and our relationships, especially family relationships and romantic relationships. There is always the tendency to control and dominate. Did you and someone else ever try to make each other do what you each wanted the other to do? We all do that. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it is sneaky; sometimes we do it by being bombastic and sometimes by being coy – but we do it.

In our close relationships how much do we imitate God and allow the other person to be free – let them grow, love them and nurture them and permit them to be who they are? We don’t do a very good job of that, because we are in the process along with the whole universe, and we are a long way from where we would like to be, but that is what God is drawing us to.

Gracious love, it is so hard for me to love. So much of me wants to dominate, to control and make people do what I want them to do and think the way I want them to think. I deceive myself. I say that I want them to do it for their own good, when the reality is I’m only being selfish. Heal the wounds inside of me that make me want to dominate and control. Heal the fear and the insecurities. Heal all of the hurts that have me so twisted inside.

Excerpted from the homily “Love Power” in Surrounded by Love, (c) 2005

I’m optimistic for a better week. I will give them space to figure it out themselves, be ready with structure when they’re ready to incorporate it. Remember that real classrooms take weeks to establish their norms and rhythms. Give them space to learn it. As long as they’re reading 30 minutes a day and showing up for attendance, that’s enough, right??

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