“Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”
The eloquent St. Edith Stein, Jewish convert and Auschwitz concentration camp victim.
While her life was tremendously more sorrow-filled than mine, these words of St. Edith Stein resonate with me and my understanding of God’s control over my life. Everything is in His view; from conception ’til death, He has known my every move, thought, reaction. Furthermore, He brought good out of all things, even my mistakes, so that I might know Him and live with Him for eternity where my mistakes will be no more.
Unfortunately, at times, I give too much emphasis to my mistakes, especially when concerning my role as Father. However, I continue to remember and understand that God is in control and that His Providence will even allow for my bad parenting mistakes to be avenues that bring my children to Him.
As a self-diagnosed overzealous parent, I recognize that there is a lot that I want for my kids and their futures. Furthermore, right now, I want a lot for them in regards to their happiness and proper understanding of the world around them. But, most of all, I want them to have an amazing relationship with Jesus and avoid all of the problems that I went through.
To help set them on the path toward my dreams for them, I have implemented a few methods. I have worked to be present to my kids so that they will not feel an aching desire for a Father-figure their whole lives. I make an effort to emphasize quantity and quality time to cultivate a good relationship with each of them. Also, my wife and I have struggled to filter their entertainment and place limits on their technology time in hope of keeping their lives filled with innocence and wonder.
I still think all of these and more are good things to do, but I notice how much emphasis I have been placing on “my work” to raise my children. Now, I am not saying I should quit caring and let my kids do whatever they want under the guise of my trust that God will handle it. He still wants my participation. However, I think I need to worry less about those times when I fall far from the image of Fatherhood I would like to be and trust that God is ultimately in control of my children’s lives. All I can do is model for them the loving relationship with Him that I would like for them to have.
Essentially, the only power we have is that we can say yes to God’s plan for us. I personally know the deep joy and love that one has when this beautiful acceptance takes place and want my kids to know it as well. We cannot get caught up in the superficial or silly complexities of the mundane day to day that can weigh us down.
For example, when we finally have had enough of the whining and we do not speak in the tone of voice with which, we imagine, St. Joseph and Mother Mary always spoke to Jesus. Or that time we were watching “The Nativity Story” with our 3 year old and the intense birth scene came up. And there are those many other times of guilt when we think we are messing up as parents in some sort of way that we should overcome with trust in God’s love for us.
We have a perfect Father in Heaven who can make up for our imperfections. We know that our kids deserve Jesus and they can have Him. All that we can do is our best to help them come to know Him.
God’s Providence means that only good comes out of all things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Therefore, if we truly love Him, and our kids know this, then we have nothing to worry about with our parenting. True love of God would mean we are trying our best as parents anyway and so I imagine that there can be very little we could do to keep our children from knowing God.
Although, we cannot drop the ball either. As parents we are the primary educators of our children and so we must take seriously our role as parents to shape our children. Just as our kids learn to walk and talk by being around us, they will pick up a love of Christ through our witness as well. Moreover, just as we teach them to read and write and perform math calculations, we should teach them how to pray and know about their Faith so that they can make it their own.
A classic quotation from St. Augustine is that “we must work as if everything depends upon us and pray as if everything depends upon God”. This fits perfectly into the task of parenting in that we must take it seriously and strive to give our children the best life of holiness, but remember that God is the One who is in control and He is most Faithful. Keeping in mind that His desire for my kids to know Him and love Him is greater than mine brings me great peace. Furthermore, it helps me the get over the many mistakes I make as a father, as I know that God is bringing good from them for both my and my children’s well-being.