Monday, October 26, 2009

On Delight

Delight in the Lord is a principle and a virtue clearly lauded all over the Scriptures. But searching through Holy Writ for references to my delight in Him instead directs me to reminders of His delight in me.

This delight, of our God in His people, is usually demonstrated, at least in the Old Testament, by some sort of physically measurable gift: prosperity, victory in battle, kingship, good crops, etc. When God delights in us, He shows us His favor.

Yet he delights in our prayers, our humility, our interior sacrifices - in short, He delights in our gifts of love from ourselves to Him. (He then shows this delight by giving of Himself and His own to us.)

Shelve this train of thought for a moment. We'll come back to it.

Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Thus each of us shines with the love of God. The more we are in tune with God, the more of His love we give to others and receive from others.

Shelve this thought right next to the other one.

Delight is a strong word. There's a big difference between "You make me laugh" and "Your humor delights me." Even greater is the gulf between either of these and "I delight in your humor" (or, even further removed, "I delight in you").

Can you imagine that? If a friend came over and told you, "I just delight in you, in your person: your quirks, your humor, your intelligence, your passions..." (Naturally, this would have to be someone who knows you well enough to have a sense of these things, otherwise it'd just be creepy, and that's not what we're discussing here.): Does that make your skin prickle? Does it feel just a bit intrusive? Just plain weird?

Why? True delight is based in generous love. When one perceives the goodness of God incarnated in another person, words like joy and appreciation are often simply inadequate to relay the depth of heartwarming love experienced. Agape needs no excuses.

I am sure I will someday delight greatly in my children, much more than I can currently conceive possible. In the meantime, Our Lord has blessed me with a jovial temperament and true delight in many, many people. As I am a young single woman, these people fall into four categories: family, female friends/acquaintances, male friends/acquaintances, and people I know from afar (this runs the gamut from that priest at the parish whom I've never met outside of Mass to that professional musician whom I consider to be a genius).

Family is family, and it doesn't feel voyeuristic to admire a stranger from afar (well, usually). Women are used to complimenting women (catty competition aside). There's even a certain degree of security in my friendships with married men, because I'm also friends with their wives (though these can still be precarious). When these extraordinary affections get most tricky is when it's with those single men whose mere presence brings me such delight.

This has happened to me more times than I can easily count: I experience such great love and appreciation for a man with whom I interact regularly... You've seen it coming: it's very difficult to delight in a man without succumbing to the pressure to develop a false crush on him. It becomes much easier when one of us secures our vocation in some way (e.g., enters a relationship or seminary), because then the ambiguity disappears.

But why the pressure of compliment? Why is it so threatening for me to communicate to a man that my delight is not only in his humor or his brains or his way of telling stories or his fashion sense? That it's more holistic than that: that everything about him fills me with holy joy simply because Our Lord saw fit to create such a wonderful creature?

But sometimes such bare honesty is inappropriate to the relationship between two people. Sometimes true charity requires that you withhold verbal expression of the depth of your delight. Though neither agape nor philia need eros, they both can be easily confused by the thought (the fear?) of the presence of their more passionate sibling.

Right now, I think I'll show that love by beseeching Our Lord to send His favor upon those who fill me with such true delight. That, and by laughing at their jokes.

2 comments:

  1. "True delight is based in generous love. When one perceives the goodness of God incarnated in another person, words like joy and appreciation are often simply inadequate to relay the depth of heartwarming love experienced. Agape needs no excuses."

    I loved that. And it reminds me of a text we recently read in CL on the need for witnesses in our life who do just that...witness to us the very real presence of Christ. "Incarnated" is a perfect word for it. Anyway, let me dig up the quote..

    "We need to see before us people who, in their way of addressing life, in their way of facing reality, of acting before the provocations of life, introduce a light, a clarity in the midst of the confusion in the way they live their relationships, work, and circumstances. It is there, in the way of facing daily challenges, that we verify whether we have something that helps us to live ... or if we are disarmed like the others. We need people who incarnate in their lives a real possibility for living the human life of men and women today. When we find ourselves before some of these people, it's as if this bewilderment, this confusion, begins to be defeated: these people begin to keep us company even if they live far away. They truly become real companions."
    --Fr. Julian Carron

    ANYWAY. Sorry my comment's turned into a post of it's own, but I just wanted to share that :o)

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  2. I'm with quickeyedlove completely. Well said :)

    The part of this post that struck me most is that true charity sometimes requires us to not reveal all that we delight in people to them. Only recently have I begun to see that some people cannot handle being told what the Lord has blessed in them, or, even more, cannot handle even knowing what those things are. For them, we must only express our delight in ways in which they are able to cope, even if it means denying them the true beauty that the Lord has shown us through them.

    I'm not even going to say the obvious here. Sometimes the obvious is so obvious that it takes away the joy of simply stating the obvious :P

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