We were sitting in Perkins eating pancakes and Luke was doing the children’s activities on the back of the place mat. He was coloring in shapes with dots in them and not coloring in shapes with no dots in them. At the end of the coloring he could see a word. One of the letters in the word was an “L” which is the first letter of his name. I said, “Well, you know what that letter is.” And he promptly replied, “It’s a “L”. The waitress overheard him and piped up, “Boy, he’s smart. How old is he?”
After she went away I said to Luke,”Being smart is fine, work hard at your books, but it is more important to be good.” Then his Pop Pop wisely said, “Yes, it is good people who others respect. Goodness will bring you happiness.” I had been struggling the past couple of days with Luke’s behavior. His mother told me that he has been “out of control” since they had come back from Disney world. I have had him the past 4 days and I have noticed that if you do things he likes, if you go out of your way to please him, he is disobedient and unkind. If you set firm boundaries and not indulge him in any way, he is a model child. I felt like Piaget watching his two sons and finding out the mysteries of childhood.
Aristotle saw virtue (what I’m calling goodness) as essential to happiness. Aristotle’s cardinal virtues–temperance, courage, justice and practical wisdom–(from the Latin, cardo, meaning a hinge) were so named because he believed all else turns on them. All other habits that would bring human contentment depend on them. If I teach Luke to take all things in moderation, to be courageous, just and wise, he should be respected by his peers, secure in his decision-making, and able to take full responsibility for his life. That is the way to happiness, what Aristotle describes as a settled contentment with one’s lot, oneself and others.*
Contentment seems to elude Luke when everything is done for him. He needs to confront life, to learn to moderate, decide, and choose wisely. Being the third child with 2 older sisters, he has not had much chance to practice these skills. It has been different for him these past few days, being the only child visiting his grandparents, not having everything decided for him by a Disney cruise recreation director or 2 older sisters. He will be at home alone next school year. His sisters will both be in school. This may be his year!
In today’s devotions, Pop Pop and I read where Moses was instructing the people to obey the Lord and all would be well with them from Leviticus. We lit three candles in our Easter Garden this morning. We lit the first candle for the Last Supper, the second candle for Good Friday, and the third candle for the grave. We talked about being good and that Jesus taught us how to be good by His life. The miracle is going to happen tomorrow. Jesus is going to raise from the dead so that He can live in our hearts forever. He promised He’d always be there to help us be good. Sometime today I have to get a miniature figurine of Jesus or a good picture to paste on the big stone in our Easter Garden for tomorrow morning. Note the little pipe cleaner worms Luke made for the garden. We added them yesterday.
Waiting for Our Savior,
PS Just a note to clarify any misunderstanding. I do not believe we get to heaven on our good behavior. Jesus paid the price for getting us to heaven. That’s the story of Good Friday. Jesus’ blood makes us good enough for heaven. The goodness on earth is a demonstration of our love for His great love for us in dying on the cross for us. A by-product of goodness in this life may be happiness, if Aristotle is correct.
* This paragraph is paraphrased from thoughts I had reading:
Malloch, TJ (2008). Doing Virtuous Business: The Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise, Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Chapter 2 Virtue