In his pride, Belshazzar thought he had placed himself beyond the grasp of God such that he could violate with impunity God’s ceremonial laws for the use of the goblets from the temple. And we have stories continuously in history up to the modern era, such as the bizarre story of Howard Hughes, whose life is a revolting metaphor for our generation. After the wild successes of his life, all the money, the beautiful, glamorous women, the high-living, he became a victim of his success as he increasingly saw himself as a god, trying to control his own fate against all threats. The crazy, obsessive stories about Hughes are numerous, and people have attributed several factors to this long, slow train-wreck, but I can sum it up in a couple of words, sin and pride.
So, certainly, it is good to want your children to have a better life. But it is foolishness to think that you can protect them or inoculate them from the major challenges of life. When we try to protect ourselves and our children from the messiness of life, we set up our own destruction that assuredly comes when the reality of life crashes headlong into the cherished illusions (or delusions) that we’ve built up, and each time we are bowled over as we stand flat-footed, unprepared for the brutal force of the unexpected.
In the movie “Parenthood,” the main characters try to negotiate a string of disordered events that constitute the normal, everyday life of parenting. The overarching message is that life is always unavoidably messy, but that the chaotic messiness is acceptable, maybe even enjoyable once you take on the right mindset. This chaotic disorder is part of the package that comes with each infinitely unique and creative human being, which is each and all of us. In fact, one of the critical moments of the movie is when Gil Buckman, played by Steve Martin, finally reaches an epiphany and gives up the desire to control, accepting life in all its disordered glory. In that scene, he imagines himself in a roller coaster, a metaphor for life’s ups and downs, and simply accepts the fear and the thrills that come with the ride.