Realizations of Divinity and Imperfection
Years ago, during a nativity program at church, my eldest son played the part of baby Jesus in the manger and of course, I was Mary, and my husband Joseph. The next day, at mass, the priest called up all the pregnant ladies for a blessing—and even though I was only a few weeks along with baby #2, I approached the altar. Our son was only 9 months old—so no one likely expected me to go up. However, I’m not one to turn down a blessing, and I was still in shock over becoming pregnant while actively breast-feeding. Father chuckled when I came up—and commented to the parish about how well I had played the part of Mary with my ‘surprising’ pregnancy.
Sometimes I think about that day, and then our early days of parenting. Like all new parents, I naïvely expected that parenting would come easily to me, and that my kids would respond happily and obediently to my husband and me. We can all see where this is going—it doesn’t take much life experience to see that family situations don’t always turn out as expected. It’s easy to get caught up in how our families—and our lives—aren’t going as planned. Often, I don’t feel particularly close to God—both from my lack of engagement, but also from the challenges we all face that make us wonder where we can find divine intervention in all of the unrest and illness in our world. Then there are the challenges specific to my family—like the importance of offering a safe, non-judgmental space to young adults who have mental health struggles, are potentially part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and who aren’t sure that they believe in God, let alone Catholicism.
I could go on and on, but it dawned on me recently that while I still feel wholly unprepared for parenting (4 kids in and done), we are each prepared in our own way for the struggles we face. My kids have a host of issues, but they are all problems that I can relate to in some way. It is this realization that made me see it isn’t how Catholic I can raise my kids, but rather how I was uniquely and divinely prepared for this specific life, with my specific family. There is always going to be an obstacle that I can let keep me from a relationship with God, but seeing the divinity that exists in my human, imperfect, often hilarious family bonds has made me feel like I am right where I am supposed to be—and for this I am grateful.