The Words of the Fefferman Family
How Then Shall We Live - The Family
July 3, 2005
New Hope Family Church
"The Bible records a 4,000-year Providence of Restoration that includes Noahís family, Abrahamís family, Mosesí family and Jesusí family. We see that the mistakes the members of those families committed were not events extending over a decade or several decades. Those who erred did so in a single moment, and the error of that one moment fated them and their descendants to a path of indemnity extending over a thousand years of history, and caused peoples and nations to fall into a bottomless pit of destruction. That reveals the seriousness and importance of each moment of our lives. Even the eternal Kingdom of Heaven cannot exist apart from the single moment."
Sun Myung Moon
Godís Peace Kingdom Is The Eternal Homeland for All Blessed Families -- Washington DC, June 26, 2005
In the above reading, Father Moon tells us that to avoid failure in the providence, we need to live in the moment, to be aware of the importance of every single instant of our lives as human beings who were created by God. He mentions several instances of providential families who came to grief by failing to live in the moment before God.
With regard to Noahís family, one thinks of the mistake of Hamís son in spreading a shameful attitude to his brothers about Noahís nakedness, followed by Noahís own action of cursing Hamís descendants. Concerning Abrahamís family, Reverend Moon probably refers to Abrahamís failure in his symbolic offering. In Mosesí family, Father Moon speaks of Mosesí mistake of striking the rock twice in anger rather than holding an attitude of hope for the Israelites. With regard to failure in Jesusí family, several possibilities come to mind. One is the opportunity that Joseph and Mary missed to have Jesus educated among the greatest minds of Israel when they discovered Jesus, as a young adolescent, among the teachers in the Temple.
Iíll return to these examples later. For now Iíd like to turn to the more immediate question. Our theme in the New Hope Family Church for the coming month is "How then shall we live: The Family."
Most of us here joined the Unification movement in large part because of the vision it provided us about Godís ideal of the family. The Divine Principle provides a unique insight into how each of can complete our relationship with God by realizing the three Great Blessings God gave for fulfillment on the individual, family and world levels.
On the individual level one fulfills this ideal by uniting his or her mind and body centering on God. On the family level, the ideal is realized as man and woman unite to form a family and multiply children. On the world level the blessing is realized as humans realize a relationship of harmony with the Creation.
That ideal inspired many of us as we went through our 20s, sacrificing our individual desires for the Unification movement and training ourselves to be good husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, to realize God centered families. As we finally reached adulthood and established actual families, however, we discovered that it is not quite that simple. We all still struggle in our relationship with God as individuals. We all have difficulties and challenges with our spouses and children. Some of us divorce. Some of us lose our spouses and even our children to death through accidents and disease. Many of us face situations with our children not inheriting the faith tradition as we hoped they would. What happened to the Ideal?
How do we keep our hope and faith alive in the face of such challenges? How do we live with God in the moment, as Rev. Moon said, and thus overcome any challenge or temptation that Satan places in our path? What do we do if we, or a member of our family makes a tragic mistake? One could speak about making a Foundation of Four position on the individual level. But then what do you do if your spouse isnít keeping up his or her end of the bargain? And what do you do when your children, despite your best efforts as a parent, use their free will in exactly the opposite way you hoped they would and trained them to do?
One thing that has helped me and Susan in our own course is to realize that every seeming tragedy that challenged our faith can also bring me closer to God. When our older daughter was just fourteenóand I did get permission from her to speak about thisówe woke up to the nightmare of her falling in love with a boy almost five years older than she was. We might have been ready for such a thing at age sixteen, but things like this rarely happen when you are ready for them. We blinked, and the reality hit us square in the face. In our church, such relationships are not supposed to happen. But it did.
In such a situation, what can a parent do? We know from the Principle that children have free will and even God couldnít force Adam and Eve not to fall. When children are in that rebellious stage, all the parental advice in the world is to no avail, no matter how good your communication skills are, or how faithfully your prayed for them and taught them. And of course, each of us knows that we were not perfect parents. So we also tend to blame ourselves, which only makes the situation all the more difficult.
But you have to try. So we advised. We put her in a private school. We got the police involved when she ran away. We faced the fact of her involvement with drugs. We got her professional psychological counseling. We met with the boyís parents. We went to court when she got in trouble with the law. We even accepted the totally unacceptable reality that she was not going to make it unscathed in her teenage years, she would not get matched to a nice boy of our own faith, and go to the Blessing. And, we sat in church week after week listening to sermons by people with children younger than ours about how ESSENTIAL it is that we train our children properly, because the worst thing in the world that can happen to them is that they "fall." You can imagine how inspiring church services were for us in those circumstances!
Knowing Godís Heart
There was really only one consolation for us in those days. That was, that we came to realize that God had gone through this too. He too had experienced a broken heart as the result of his children rejecting the ideal he held for them. He too had experienced the agony of his daughter getting involved with someone who wasnít intended for her. And he too had no choice but to keep loving her no matter what. One day after listening to a particularly painful sermon in church, I told Susan, "We have come to know an aspect of Godís heart that the pastor hasnít begun to experience yet. And letís hope he never does have to understand it."
So to those of you who are suffering with your children, or who are struggling in your marriage, or who have lost a love one, I say, you too are blessed. You may not be blessed in the way God originally intended or the way you thought you would be. But your suffering can bring you closer to God and to understanding His heart.
In our Bible study group weíve been reading the prophets lately. One of them, Ezekiel, experienced the death of his wife and saw this as Godís way of having him represent what God experienced when Jerusalem was destroyed. (Ezekiel 24:15-25)
The prophets often express Godís agony because of Israelís lack of fidelity in terms of the heart of a husband with an unfaithful wife. In that respect, even an adulterous spouse can provide an opportunity for a person to understand Godís heart more deeply. God reportedly even commanded the prophet Hosea to take an adulterous woman as his wife as a qualification for the prophet to represent God to the people:
When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." So he married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. (Hosea 1:2-3)
Jesus spoke of loving your enemies.
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Mt. 5:43-45)
Notice that Jesus says that loving your enemies is the way that you become a son of your Father in heaven. In other words, it is the way that you inherit Godís character, as his child, for God too forgives his enemies.
Forgiving the Enemy of Love
Itís easy to forgive your enemies when you donít know them personally, such as when they are members of another nation. But itís difficult to forgive an enemy who is intimate with you or who has harmed you personally. The most difficult enemy to forgive -- and the most important one that we struggle to get to the point of forgiving -- is the one Reverend Moon calls the "enemy of love."
Even Rev. Moon has struggled with this challenge. In one speech he said that the enemy of love could not be forgiven:
"There are many enemies in this world. The worst one is the enemy of love. Don't you think so? God has a teaching. It is to love your enemy. Why could God not love Satan? Satanic men can be forgiven and loved by God, but not Satan himself. Satan himself destroyed the root of love and cannot be forgiven.
But in another speech Rev Moon said that God indeed must come to love even Satan:
What is the definition of the true God? Again, the same definition applies to both people and God. God has an enemy who stole His love. Satan made himself God's worst enemy by stealing God's love. That was the worst crime against God. If someone abducts the one you truly love, he destroys you completely because he takes away your entire universe. Now we know that the perfected true person and the perfected true God are the ones who can forgive their worst enemy who stole their love. If you asked God what kind of person He would like to live with, He would reply that He wants to live with the kind of perfected person who has the capacity to forgive the very enemy of love. With Whom Shall I Live? 2-6-83
So which is it: should we forgive the enemy of love or not forgive the enemy of love? Remember when the young scholar asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Perhaps a more important question is "who is my enemy of love?" And when is it appropriate to forgive them? Actually, Reverend Moon speaks of coming to forgive the "enemy of love" in several speeches, especially recent ones. So apparently we have our answer. Perhaps not unconditionally, but eventually we have to get to that point.
One more thing about our elder daughter: Although she rejected the idea of being matched by us, she retained a fierce commitment to the ideal of true love, as she understood it. She stayed with that young man for seven years. And yes, we eventually came to love him. We can actually say that we came to the point where the person who was the enemy of love for us became the person we were ready to adopt as our son-in-law. Shortly after that, our daughter realized he was not really the one for her, and they broke up! She was well on her way to becoming a responsible young adult even before that happened, but today she really is a fine young woman, and a good daughter that we are proud of. Today sheís engaged to a young man we felt very good about from the moment we met him, and they plan to include the holy wine blessing in their wedding ceremony. Sometimes she tells Susan: "Mom, Iím so sorry for what I put you and Dad through back then. That wasnít me. I donít even know that person."
So like the Father in the story of the Prodigal son, we now have our daughter back. But it wouldnít have happened if we had cut her off, or if we failed to find the strength to love her even when she was being unlovable. I can testify now that itís possible to come closer to God through the very thing that seemed to shatter what I thought was Godís ideal -- that it is possible to learn to love the enemy of oneís love at a very personal level within the family. And I can testify that even the worst nightmares end.
The True Familyís Course
Some people wonder why there have been problems in Reverend Moonís own family. We call him and Mrs. Moon the "True Parents," and we call their family the "True Family." Yet several of their children, too, have married outside the faith or are leading less than exemplary lives. If they are the True Family, in what ways are we supposed to emulate them? This used to bother me quite a lot actually, and Iím sure it bothers many of us. These days, the way I look at is that we cannot expect, as we once did, that things will go easily for the next generation.
And so, it is only natural that Reverend Moonís family will face all of the challenges that our families face. We know it was not easy for him on the individual level. He was imprisoned, tortured, failed in his first marriage, and was betrayed by close disciples. Yet he persevered through it all and was ultimately victorious. Perhaps it was naïve of us to believe that there would be smooth sailing for his family after all. And perhaps some of the difficulties he has faced with his own children will open the way for our own children to be reconciled with us when they make mistakes too.
We are entering a time when many of our second generation are approaching the age of marriage. Some of them have already been blessed. (Could I ask those young people in the congregation who have been blessed to stand?) Itís all well and good that we celebrate our blessings and encourage our children to inherit that tradition. But we also have to acknowledge that so far, that a disturbingly low number of our children of marriageable age have even gone to the blessing, let alone establish successful families. We need a way to embrace those of our children who have stumbled on the way, or who simply do not want to go the Formula Course of the matching and blessing. The question is: how do we do this without at the same time lowering our standards to the point that we fail to uphold our own principles?
The same is true for those adults in our community whose marriages have failed. Is there a place in our community for those whose marriages fail? I donít know if many of you saw the article in the New York Times the other by one of our members, Renee Watabe, shared about her feelings as she faces the prospects of divorce. Recalling how she felt at the time of her blessing she said:
There was an undeniable sense of holiness about the whole endeavor. ÖWas I brainwashed? I sit here writing this, 18 years and three children later, on the verge of divorce. Did he and I finally fail after all we've been through? We certainly haven't turned out to be the ideal picture-perfect family we set out to be. Even so, I still find Reverend Moon's vision a beautiful one, this path remarkable, this project admirable. It's just that my husband and I didn't know how hard and gritty the path would be.
In the next paragraph, Renee provides an important insight that I believe we can all benefit from, even though hopefully our path will not end where hers has:
Finally I came to understand what was missing. The religious call to love your enemy included loving that enemy as you would love yourself, and I didn't love myself. In all the sacrificing I'd done for marriage, children and world peace, I'd lost a sense of who I was and what I wanted.
Do you remember that old Whitney Houston song, "The Greatest Love of All?" I remember feeling that it was too self-centered: "Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all." Today I think differently about it. To the degree that we have unresolved feelings of poor self-esteem, we are really hampered in being able to live for the sake of others effectively, and we are almost completely crippled when it comes to the ideal of loving our enemy.
So in the final analysis, the question of how we should live in the family comes down to a paradox. We canít succeed in living for the sake of others without spending at least some energy and time on ourselves. The same is true when we think about how the family relates to the society. Just as we should live for the sake of others within the family, so the family should live for the sake of other families in society. But a family canít contribute effectively to society if itís dysfunctional on the family level. If the parents are always going to church meetings and not spending time meeting the physical and emotional needs of the children, things are bound to fall apart. It is a question of balance.
Going back to the examples Father talked about in our reading: Noah got drunk, fell asleep naked and woke up cursing his own sonís lineage. This is not the way we should live. Iíve often felt that instead of drinking all that wine by himself, Noah should have had a big party with his wife, sons and their wives. I picture them all dancing around the campfire together, Noah and his wife getting tipsy, then sleepy, and finally dozing off while watching the young couples dance. After that the younger couples, not sleepy at all, would head of to be fruitful and multiply, big time, with Godís complete blessing!
Abraham got tired and failed in his symbolic offering. After that Isaac and Ishmael were disqualified from fulfilling the foundation to receive the messiah in their generation. If he had succeeded, perhaps Hagar and Sarah would have been able to reconcile with each other. Abraham should have spent time helping them unite. Perhaps Ishmael would have been a good elder brother to Isaac instead of having to be sent into exile to prevent another situation as when Cain killed Abel. And perhaps today, there would be no such thing as a Middle East crisis or Islamic militancy.
Moses struck the Rock in anger instead of bringing hope to his people. Perhaps if he had invested some time during that 40 years in the wilderness taking an anger management course and had learning to love himself, he could have given his people hope. And then there would have been no condition for the people to reject the messiah later on.
And if Mary and Joseph had put their childís welfare first, instead of focusing on their own emotional needs (Luke 2:48) and dragging him back to Nazareth, perhaps they could have arranged for him to stay with the temple elders to learn from them. He could have spent his youth winning the respect and loyal friendship of the greatest teachers of day instead of being in a position later of being opposed by the religious establishment.
So it all comes down to being secure and mature within ourselves, and on that foundation being able to go beyond ourselves to live for the sake of others. Eventually we even have to learn to forgive, love and unite with the ones who have hurt us most deeply.
"An unhappy family," says Reverend Moon, "cannot make up a happy nation." Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. This is something to think about as we enjoy our picnics and fireworks with our families. And if we are not enjoying some time with our family this weekend, maybe itís time that we do so.
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