I have always struggled with this idea of God asking Abraham to kill Isaac. Yes, I know how the story ends, how the messenger appears just in time to stop the slaughter, but the thought of our loving Creator asking for the death of a child, or anyone for that matter, does not sit well with me.
But what if we read this story understanding Isaac, not simply as Abraham’s son, but his idol. In a time period where children literally equaled one’s value in society, there’s no wonder why Abraham desperately wanted a child. A person’s whole identity was tied to their lineage. In a society with those pressures, it would be easy to idolize a child.
As a single woman deeply called to the vocation of wife and mother, I can relate to Abraham. True, today the idea of identity and worth isn't tied as tightly as back then, but it’s not exactly separate either—especially in Catholic circles.
Every time I turn on social media someone is engaged or pregnant.
Most parish ministries for women I have encountered are geared specifically to mothers.
And my grandmother persistently questions whether or not I ever plan on getting married.
With all of this noise combined with my own struggles of self worth, it is easy to fall into the lie of my identity relying solely on this vocation I crave. And it is just as easy to allow my longing to become idolatrous.
Marriage and children are good and of God, but they are not God.
And so I wonder if that is what God was asking Abraham to sacrifice—not Isaac, but the idol he had allowed his son to become. And as I think about all those times I am angry or distraught with how my life looks right now, I pray for the strength of Abraham to sacrifice my desires and my control simply to follow God.
Pray for clarity in God's will for your life. Pray a Rosary slowly and meditate on all the ways Jesus followed God's will in His life, especially the hard times.
Sarah Stanley is a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Ignatian and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She recently earned her Master of Divinity and now serves as the Director of Christian Service at a high school in New England. When she’s not working, she enjoys contagious laughter, travel, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. You can find out more about her here.