As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Catholic Guilt

These days, I am feeling strongly convicted that I need to be more kind to my children. My three oldest boys share a bedroom. For the past several months bedtime has been tricky, as the youngest of the three Stephen has a difficult time settling down, keeping the older ones (and in fact, the entire household) awake. Our solution has been to sit outside their room after they go to bed, and speak swiftly and sternly at the first sign (or rather, sound) of disruption. It has been working pretty well.

Last night when the boys went to bed, Timothy was upset. I tried my best to comfort him, but (as is common with Timothy) there was nothing I could say to calm him down, and so I ended up having to leave the bedroom while he was still crying. Not long after I left, I heard the slow creak of the door opening. Thinking it to be the cat, I jumped up and started shushing at the door. Only then did I discover that it was Stephen, up out of bed. I reacted with a harsh, "you get back to bed!" It was only when I was tucking him back in that he said, "but Timothy's still crying." I looked at his little face, and my heart broke. He was pouting, and he was really upset. He was concerned for his brother, and I thought he was just being defiant (and treated him that way). I felt like mean Miss Hannigan in "Annie".

People often speak about Catholic guilt, but I think those people must not truly understand the heart of God, and His intentions in providing guidance through the teachings of the Church. It is precisely the teachings of the Church that bring me comfort in times like this. God wants me to be patient with the kids not because He wants me to feel bad about times like this, but because He knows that I will not be happy if I am constantly giving in to my emotions. He knows that by learning to control my impulses, I will see the bigger picture, and that in being loving in all situations, I will be happier myself, and make my children happier as well. And when I do fall short, as I so often do, it is the teachings of my faith that help me to know I am not stuck there, and that I am not an awful person. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but forgiveness is just a breath away (the breath it takes to form the words to ask for it), and once received, brings us to a place where we have a fresh start.

Today is my fresh start, this very moment. And I am so grateful for the faith that brings that to me. In the Catholic Church I find not teachings that guilt and shame me, but guidance that helps me grow more into the person God wants me to be. A person who is happy, a person who is free, and above all, a person who loves God and His people (especially those entrusted to my care) above everything else.

No comments :

Post a Comment