As someone who grew up in a non-traditional home, the Catholic faith has always had much to offer me. A family, a family history, traditions, positive role models, a loving Mother, a just, merciful Father and most of all unconditional love. And Jesus, who told me that I deserved to be loved not for something I did or didn’t do, but just because I am made in His image. All things I never knew as a child.
The oldest of 4 children, each of us with different fathers, ours was a life lived on edge. It was a life that made me who I am today, and I appreciate the characteristics that my life has provided. I am often told that people see me as one of the most confident women they know. They see me as a strong woman. If they only knew! What appears as confidence is a lifelong realization that things must get done, whether I know how to do them or not, whether there is someone to teach me or not. Consequently I don’t fear the unknown. What appears as strong is growing up having to deal with unthinkable circumstances.
Embracing my faith has been a lifelong journey. I heard a beautiful song on the radio the other day with a verse about going to heaven and being greeted by your loved ones.
What seems to be a beautiful thought caused me distress. Who was going to greet me in heaven? Certainly not my family. My mother, an alcoholic most of my childhood, gave up God long before I was born. Some of the things that occurred in my past are too unthinkable to put into writing. God can forgive all, but to my knowledge, none of these people have asked for God’s forgiveness, even denying His existence. My brothers both in prison, my sister and I fighting our own demons, ours is a lost family.
I am consumed with sadness at the thought. When all these families are reunited in heaven, who is going to meet me?
And Jesus responds to me. He will be there. He will be there, as He has been since I can remember, even though my parents did not believe in God or practice any faith in our home. At eight years old I felt “called” to seek God, so I walked to a church near our home seeking to know the God who spoke to me. Jesus has been with me throughout my life and He responds now, He will be there waiting for me in heaven.
Still, will it be Jesus and me, while other families are reunited with happy, healed and perfect family members? It occurs to me, God can heal my mother too. He can heal her pain, her suffering.
I often struggle with the commandment to honor your father and mother. How do you honor a father and mother who used, abused, neglected and abandoned their children?
And so I turn to the Word of God for answers. Surely if God gave us this commandment, there will be some words to guide me. And I see the great King David, persecuted by Saul yet forever steadfast in his loyalty to God. Neither does he place himself in harm’s way. Even as he must hide to save his life, he honors Saul in word and deed. Saul seeks to have David murdered. David is afforded an opportunity to easily kill Saul, and he refrains, choosing to let Saul’s fate be determined by God. He honors God and he respects (without placing himself in harm’s way) God’s chosen one, even though that chosen one has become his persecutor. David goes into hiding and bides his time. David is richly rewarded for his loyalty and faithfulness and become the great King David.
(Read this entire story in 1 Samuel, it is incredible.)
And so God today I thank you and praise you for family. I have a wonderful husband of 33 years; I have beautiful children and grandchildren. Like David, I have been richly blessed. Like David, I want to sing and dance your praises! Thank you for giving me this beautiful family.
This week let us all treat our family members as if they are royalty. Let us love them and serve them, honoring the gift they are to us. Imagine if each family member treated the other in this manner.
Father, let Love and Light triumph in all families.