Family Reflections: Offering light, love in the context of our family
By Michelle Browning, LMFT-A
She found Christ in a field on a vacation trip. The picture she saw and the emotions she felt changed her life forever. Now she has more than a strong conviction –– her faith is so intense that at times it burns her hands and hair. The fierce love that she has for Christ is felt through walls. If anyone questions whether there is a God, they are invited to sit with this woman for 60 seconds. Her faith will burn holes in their disbelief.
Christ gave her a simple task list: love him, love her family and see that they find him.
Her children –– middle schoolers and high schoolers –– wear their faith proudly with conviction and intention. They are challenged on a daily basis on usual teen issues: relationships, acceptance, community, tolerance, success, rules and family. Yet, they know the rules, they like the rules, they share the rules with their friends. Together with their mother, they have a distinct sense of family. Each one has a personal relationship with Christ and his mother, Mary, and they trust in the Holy Spirit.
This family shares light and love with the world. When the rules are broken or sin occurs, the consequences play out and, most importantly, love and forgiveness follow. They are human and mistakes are made. However, when God is invited into the mistakes –– love happens, light happens.
As Catholic families, we are called to be the light of Christ for all to see. We are called to be our true selves –– imperfect, human and sinful. We are called to be witnesses to God’s love and mercy for all.
Parents are tasked with helping children learn about the world and how to be in the world, while living a Catholic life –– daily sin and all. We can easily tell our children to avoid the evils in the world or we can help them understand the evils of the world and let them make their own choices. Then if they mess up, we can help them lay their sins at the feet of Jesus and receive his forgiveness.
When kids fail (before leaving home), they start to figure out what it means to be Catholic and human at the same time. They are given opportunities to learn from their mistakes, forgive themselves and most importantly, see God’s grace and receive his unending forgiveness.
Catholic or not, we all know someone who is unhappy, angry or bitter. Offering a sincere gaze and a listening ear (free from advice or judgment) brings light. The best way to teach this to our children is by modeling these in the home, in the car, at the start of every day, at mealtime and at bedtime. When we listen to them, let them ask questions, open a dialogue, we are sharing the light of Christ with them and they are learning to share the light of Christ with others.
That same mom and her pre-teens and teens have a ritual –– for one hour every day they open up the most private parts of themselves (away from teachers and friends). They can share anything and everything. It is a sacred time in which each person at the table knows they are accepted, loved and needed to make this circle complete.
The kids in this family defend that hour and relish it. This is where they receive the light and where they practice sharing the light. When they leave their home and go into the world, they reflect the light of Christ, perhaps not perfectly, but definitely willingly.
And this is when their mother knows she is accomplishing the tasks Christ put on her heart: she is loving Christ, loving her family and seeing that her children find him.
May God bless all mothers this Mother’s Day, and may we all share the light of Christ in our homes and in our world.