“Perhaps the highest moral height which a man can reach, and at the same time the most difficult of attainment, is the willingness to be nothing relatively. It is nothing to a man to be greater or less than another- to be esteemed or otherwise by the public or private world in which he moves. The truth satisfies him. He lives in absoluteness. God makes the glow-worm as well as the star; the light in both is divine. If mine be an earth-star to gladden the wayside, I must cultivate humbly and rejoicingly its green earth-glow, and not seek to blanch it to the whiteness of the stars and lie in the fields of blue. For to deny God in my own being is to cease to behold Him in any. God and man can meet only by the man’s becoming that which God meant him to be. Then he enters into the house of life, which is greater than the house of fame.”George MacDonald, Adela Cathcart
Many thinkers, including Dr. Jordan Peterson, speak of the inevitability, and function, of social hierarchies. They point to the benefits of seeking to strive upwards in a hierarchy of competence, so we feel valuable and have purpose. One may strive for accomplishment in artistic endeavors, another in plumbing. This progress brings meaning into our lives. In seeking our hierarchies-of-purpose, we should consider our strengths and interests, and seek to discover God’s will for our lives.
Yet it is important to contemplate why we seek progression, and from Whom we seek approvable. The relative prestige of the hierarchy should not matter to us: glow-worm or a star. We should not look to the side to see where others are on their hierarchal-ladder, we should look upward for guidance.
In our desire to progress, we should not be overly concerned with the opinion of others. Christianity calls us to a higher sphere for recognition. A Higher Name than Society to measure our value. Rather than depending on the respect and admiration of others, we seek God’s approval. This enables us to be content with, and even see the advantages of, a life of little public influence.
When a society loses its collective belief in a Transcendent Being – that is pleased with our humble efforts – is it any wonder that motherhood and fatherhood are viewed as thankless, and often cast aside? Parenthood produces no money and brings few accolades.
But we care not. Because we, as mothers and fathers, know that we are fulfilling a great work. We know that even the relative nothingness of parenthood to this world, is of great worth to God.
2 thoughts on “Relative Nothingness”
I sent this to all of my kids. Thank you.
There seems to me no greater, more compelling example that objective truth exists than the objective truth that diligent parenting is a true and good and valuable thing. Is there a more woeful thing than an under-parented child? Thankless? Yes. Valueless? God no. Au contraire.
Great piece Ally.
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