I’ve wanted always to write something special just for you, just about you and what you, your presence has meant in my life. But the feeling has always been so big.. the emotion… it’s been so tremendous that when I try to find the words, they seem to erupt, like an out-of-control volcano full of fire and such passion that I can only stand back and watch in my mind, amazed at their force. And there they are—the words describing my emotions—all heaped up and so hot that they can’t be touched or formed or made sense of without waiting for a cooler time.
How can I describe the change you made in my life? I’m not sure I can. Or at least not in a way that will make much sense to you.
I was a different person before you. Now, even I have a hard time remembering what it was like then. I know I did things I enjoyed…spent time doing things that were fun…cared for people (most of whom I no longer know)…defended issues that seemed important at the time, maybe even worthwhile…achieved some degree of professional success… lived life as it came.
Still, there was a place inside — a larger place than I realized, as it happens — which was so empty. A void and dark place. Looking back, I wasn’t depressed so much as I was unaware of how much more there was, what greater love, what greater fulfillment was possible. It was there for me, but I couldn’t see it or touch it. I sincerely had no idea of what ‘it’ was or even how to look for whatever it was. I just knew something important was missing.
Oddly, as I find myself on the other end of the last 32+ years, where my daughter is really and truly grown and independent, I realize that all the feelings and emotions I had for you over the years—love, caring, protection, nurturing, teaching, correcting, fear, uncertainty, learning and experiencing life through your eyes—were leading me deeper and deeper into relationship with our Lord. His only desire for each of us is to love us. Many have described His love as being most similar to that of a parent for a child.
The words describing how I feel about being your mother can’t be captured in just a sentence or a thought. Like God’s love, they’re infinite and momentous and so incredibly beautiful that they defy the confines of even my most inspired speech.
Being your mother led me, in my fear and trepidation while I was pregnant, to make a deal with God. I wasn’t sure who He was at the time, so much as I believed there was something important out there that was bigger than me.
The deal (it was really a covenant, a holy agreement between me and Him, but I didn’t understand all that back then) went something like this: God, if you take care of me and help me find a good job and career direction and livelihood where I can raise my daughter, I will do my best to make sure she is raised as your child.
This ‘deal’ resulted in my conviction that you would attend church and receive religious education and moral guidance and support.
I immediately faced my first challenge in where to go to church and how assure your Christian education without much (any really) of my own Christian knowledge. Thus, we eventually traveled from church to church as I learned more about God and Christ.
While one can only know what one knows at any point in time and child rearing is pretty much on-the-job-training, I regret my ignorance. It impacted on you and is most certainly at the source of several of your most painful childhood experiences and memories.
Many of my life decisions were ill-advised, at best, and were born of my own parents and grandparents misdirected beliefs. Even knowing what I now believe is true, I have always figured that just as I eventually found my way, you will too…or maybe more accurately stated, God will find you and capture your heart wherever you are.
At any rate, it’s only belatedly that I wish you had attended first grade as a Catholic, rather than an outsider to Catholicism. That’s on me; not on the faith. It never really occurred to me to even consider Catholicism. Like ‘Christian fundamentalists,’ … AOG-Life Christian, Crosspoint and the like…Catholics were off limits for my father and the religion we were exposed to as his children .
And, as you point out, you’ve survived my lack of understanding and are thriving on your own path, as have others unaware of the beauty of Catholic teaching (recognizing and acknowledging the failing of many of its teachers).
It’s just that there’s so much today that conspires to threaten our sense of what’s right and important and whose in charge.
By having you and making my covenant with God to make you His child, I slowly but surely found my way home… to a place where I realize that my life isn’t…cannot be…just about me and provide any lasting peace or satisfaction.
It’s always and forever about my relationship with God. Like love, one’s life can only begin to have true and lasting meaning when we give it away. The writings of various Catholic faithful seem unusual in this understanding of God’s word and they bear witness to a higher purpose for each of us in this world. The last 10-15 years…the last 5 especially…have deepened my understanding in ways I never imagined possible.
So there we were, you and I. I would sit and just look at you for what seemed like hours at a time in the weeks and months after you were first born. You were magical; and my heart sometimes felt like it was so big in my chest that I couldn’t breathe . We’d dance and laugh and explore together. Who knew I could be so full of relevant knowledge and wisdom? That’s what it felt like at first, as I would work to slow down all my thoughts and actions and words so we could communicate…so you could understand me and learn what I was trying to teach you. I never had to show you things more than once or twice. You soaked in everything. It wasn’t long before I realized that you’d soak in bad stuff just as easily, if I wasn’t careful.
So I tried to expose you only to good things. Happy, positive, and, if necessary, corrective. You really didn’t need much of that. You were from the first kind and sweet and curious and incredibly bright and capable.
But as happens in the world you eventually we’re exposed to more and more negativity and cruelty and misdirection. It started pretty quickly as you entered first grade at St Pat’s. Much of that experience would have been different for you if we had been members of the parish. And as Sister Marilyn said at the time, “We don’t leave anyone out. Everyone’s welcome to join the church.”
Well, things evolve. And our Christian walk certainly has, as you know. As we move forward from this point I just want you hear from my lips/pen probably the most crucial message I believe I know now in 2018. And because it flies in face of so much in our world and culture; it’s a truth that gets muddled.
Our life…each of our lives…are always and forever about our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Period. Full stop.
Our lives aren’t about us, or our wants, or our freedoms, or our choices. Or our passions. They’re about becoming the person God created us to be. Only in searching for and finding this person … God’s unique person that is in each of us… do we become holy and begin to experience the peace and the joy and the saintliness that He intends for each of us, His children.
It’s such a beautiful thing, this divine love. It’s everything we yearn for and more…a sort joyful, childlike rapture…totally free of care or concern because our one and only First Love, our Lord and Savior, is caring for and protecting us all day every day.