dear son: bad things happen, but we’ll be here

I feel like the Gospel applies to my life so vividly as a mother. Why? Because I can see God the Father’s relationship with me– and love for me– even more clearly now, reflected in the way I relate to and love my own son.

Why would I give my son a stone when he says he wants bread? I would give him not just a piece of bread, but an entire feast!

Why would I hand him a snake when he asks for a fish? I would never want anything harmful in his hands!

And if he wants a fish– why, I would give him a fish, and a whole ocean of love.

This is how much I adore him, care for him, and simply want the best for him.

Jesus tells me to ask, to seek, to knock– and I will receive, find, and be welcome. More than that, I will be home in his arms.

God the Father promises me good things. And that’s an understatement. Not necessarily in the form of my prayers being answered in the way that I conceive is best for me– but instead, in my prayers being answered as according to His Will, which, in some mysterious way, is the best for me, even though it bears the bad and the suffering– in addition to the good and the joy.

With a mother’s heart, I hope and I pray that nothing terribly bad ever happens to my son (and that he never commits anything terribly bad out of his will).

After all, I want the best for him.

But alas, we do not live in paradise. Not today, at least. One day.

I cannot promise my son that nothing bad will ever befall him.

What I can promise my son, however, is that I will always try to give him the best of me: my presence in his life, my love for him, my prayers, my witness to Jesus and to the faith– come what may.

In the good, the bad, the joys, the suffering, this is my gift: my presence.

As I near my son’s first birthday, I realize that this Madeleine L’Engle quote could not ring more true as I reflect upon my own life, and God’s steadfast presence in it….

“God doesn’t stop the bad things from happening. That’s never been part of the promise. The promise is I am with you. I am with you now until the end of time.”

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Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”

faithful friends

My husband and I love the Book of Sirach in the Sacred Scripture so much that we call Sirach “our man Sirach”! Recently, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to meditate upon this verse from Sirach– which was my favorite Bible verse in my middle school days:

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.

Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship,
for as they are, so will their neighbors be”

–Sirach 6:14-17

Fast forward to now, when I’ve lived the length of that middle school life-span two times over, and I still value friendship as a gift of infinite worth.

Friends shape you and they help you to become the “best version of yourself” (a la Matthew Kelly).  As Christians, we are made to sharpen one another like “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). So often, spiritual growth is not solitary, but together, in fellowship. In my life, this means that spiritual growth occurs largely with my spouse or friends and alongside friends old and new. Deeper than that, we are made by God to be shelters to one another, in good times and in bad (Sirach 6:14).

As friends, we are called to sharpen one another into saints– and so often, this means being figurative “homes” to our friends: to hold their hearts, to value their lives and their dignity, to remind them of their worth, and vice versa. To “tell them like it is” (whether they like it or not) and to just hold them and to be gentle with them (if that need that). 

Friendship, in essence, is a shared sacred space, a shared duty, to honor and to love the other with their best interest at heart.

So may we journey together. May we run in this life side by side, towards our singular destination: Heaven.