Why do we love and act as we do? What games are we playing in our lives that distract us from learning to love as God loves?

Recently I observed high school students playing a card game where they were assigned status by random cards dealt them. A face card meant the student would be in the upper class, a mid-numbered card meant middle class and a lower numbered card meant one was in the lower class. The student was not aware of his status (holding the card on his forehead), and had to guess from the way he was treated in the ensuing moments.

Observing the students as they figured out their number, I saw how quickly the face-carded upper class felt entitled and became cliquish. They disparaged those of lower class—not a benevolent king seen! Sadly, I saw the lower numbered students shunned, disparaged, and set in their places and how quickly they accepted the awful treatment as they hung their heads and dropped their shoulders.

Even within the subgroups, students vied for placement, happy if they were at least not the lowest within each class. Processing the game afterwards, students revealed how they felt within the experience—the powerlessness of the lower class, the defensiveness of the middle class protecting what status they had, and the entitlement of the upper class.

Let us not be guilty of ego inflation and deflation based on random factors and gamesmanship. Let us find our identities and dignity in Christ. Our acceptance of illusions of greatness or smallness can erode our real identities.

What if we found our identities in Christ alone? What if we served out of the abundance of love and gratitude experienced in a loving relationship with God?

We love because God loved us first. Let us learn to love as God loves. Isn’t this what St. Ignatius’ Contemplation to Attain God’s Love is all about?

—Janet Lehane is Assistant Director of the Spirituality Program for Adults at St.  Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.