My kids seldom say the words, but I’ve seen the look on their faces. They’ve seen me at my worst, not the me that writes in composed fashion on Single Mom Smiling, not the me that now has the confidence and the Peace that allows me to coach other women through transition, but the me that I’d never want others to see, the me that is ugly and mean and doubting and selfish, the me I fight back but who rears her ugly head more often than I’d care to admit.
It doesn’t happen as often nowadays, but in the early days of my husband’s abandonment, I had many days where I let the darkness get the better of me. Those moments still strike every once in a while. I think it’s part of being human. Each of us has occasional, dark, ugly moments we’d later wish we hadn’t.
But my children have seen me at my worst. They’ve seen me fight with my ex when I should have had the Grace to walk away. They’ve seen me doubt myself and put myself down. They’ve seen me try to make changes and fail miserably. They’ve seen me give up and be defeated. They’ve seen me cry out to God in fear and anger. They’ve seen me doubt His presence and question His Wisdom and plans.
They’ve seen me at my worst.
And here I am telling them what to do and how to do it and advising them on how they should Trust and follow the Lord.
And every once in a while, the children I Love with all my heart, the children who mean the world to me, the children I would die for and the children I live for will yell something at me like, “Who made you the boss of me?”
And my heart breaks just a little.
“God made me the boss of you,” I could yell back at them.
I believe it’s true, but I know throwing God in their faces at these moments is counterintuitive and will be seen as hypocritical. I’ve shown them my sinfulness too many times in too many ways to play the God-card at these moments. It’s time to bite my tongue and respond in some other way and resolve to do better next time.
Someone recently asked me how my kids are dealing with the divorce, with the abandonment of their father, and with knowing he chose to live with another woman over living with them and how I am raising such Good Catholic Men.
It’s a tough question to answer and one I Hope to go into more depth on one day, but the Truth is, I don’t know that I am.
It’s not just the sinful ways of the world or of my ex that cause these little ones to doubt. There is little I can do about that, but I believe it is my own sin that causes the greatest shaking of their faith. I believe I bear the great responsibility if these children fail to follow the Lord.
I am the one with the Faith. The Bible tells us, to whom much has been given, much will be expected.
I have been given much. I must give more.
And so when I to tell my children about the right path, about how to treat others, about what chores they need to do, about how to follow the Lord in decision making and friendships and dating and…and in everything…and they look at me with barely concealed scorn, I realize that they have seen me in my sin.
I sometimes think, despite the Love my boys and I have for one another, that I have failed them and God. I fear that all is lost when they choose ways other than those I now, with Wisdom and clarity, know to be wrong, when they choose to fall for little temptations that seem like no big deal, that everyone is doing, that are so part of modern life.
But there is Hope in Sunday’s Mass readings.
In the Gospel of Luke 4: 21-30, we see Jesus again in the temple preaching and the amazement of those there.
“Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” they ask.
It may have been over 2000 years ago, but every sinful parent through time and place has seen that same look on her child’s face from time to time,
“Who are you to tell me what to do?”
“Aren’t you the same person who…?”
“You’re not the boss of me!”
Jesus was a sinless Man, and yet people in His hometown looked upon Him with doubt and suspicion, questioning His ability to tell them how to live, rebelling at His declaration that the Scriptures had been fulfilled in Him.
And yet we, who are sinful, fallen, broken creatures, hope our children docilely follow what we tell them, always choose the right path, and we are hurt and angry and afraid when they rise up against us. When they throw in our faces who we are.
Like those in the Synagogue did to Jesus.
Jesus tells them,
Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Do we expect, as imperfect parents, to not meet some resistance with our own children? Do we expect them to not rebel or to question our opinions or spat at our direction when they know where we come from, a place of sinful brokenness?
Those in the synagogue were filled with such fury they rose up, driving Jesus out of town with the intent of throwing him headlong off a cliff.
How many times has a teenage son looked at his parent like he’d like to do the same?
How many times has a young daughter yelled words that sliced straight to your heart and threatened to push you off the cliff?
How many times have you fought back, hurling words that match those hurled at you?
How many times have you turned away defeated, believing what you see in their eyes, believing you are not good enough, that you have no right to tell them what to do?
How many times have you wanted to give up or questioned your ability or thought that your children’s scornful looks and damaging words were true?
How many times have you feared that your children would be lost, that they had seen your sinfulness and would turn away in eternal disbelief?
And yet, as so often is the case, Jesus’s actions and words in a similar situations offer guidance. We hear nothing of Jesus as He is being led to the cliff. He does not try to convince the crowds. He does not plead with them to mend their ways or to just listen to Him. He does not yell or come back at them. He does not hang His head in defeat and despair.
He simply passes through their midst.
I believe He was silently praying for those who were so angrily claiming to know Him, those very same crowds that were telling Him He wasn’t Good enough, who were telling Him He was just the son of a carpenter.
Those very same crowds that held people who would one day convert to Christianity.
Few of us are born followers of the Lord. Most of us go through periods of questioning and doubt and of wanting to run religion off a cliff, to turn our backs on what is eternal and to live for the pleasure of the moment.
If you are a single parent or are struggling with a child in any way, draw on this lesson from Jesus.
Do not despair. Your advice may not be welcomed in your own Home right now, but it does not mean you stop trying. It does not mean you cram it down the throats of those around you. It does not mean you hang your head in defeat.
It means you put one foot in front of the other continuing in Faith and Hope and Prayer to Love your child and to Trust the Lord, to do better today than yesterday. It means that, even as you are led to the cliff, you hang on, believe, and Love unconditionally!
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!
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