Just over a month ago, I took Magoo out shopping for her First Holy Communion dress. I had a big day planned. We were going to get her ears pierced, go dress and veil shopping, and then go out to dinner together.
The day went as beautifully as I had hoped. She found a perfect dress, and we had fun chatting and planning the whole day.
After a day of all things girlie, we were heading back home, and I asked her what she was most excited about for her Communion day. A big part of me expected to hear her say the dress or the party. After all, those are big things to a seven year old.
Instead, she looked at me as if I were crazy, and said, “Obviously it’s receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.”
And those pesky tears threatened my eyes again as I wondered how this could possibly be my child.
My child… as in coming forth from my genes and my influence.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was afraid to walk into a Church. Honestly, when I did, my mind would race, my hands would shake, and my whole body would go into panic mode.
It’s not like anything bad ever happened to me in a church. It’s not that I had any negative experiences with church. In fact, my memories of church and Catholicism were happy memories of growing up and making my sacraments and feeling at home.
But I think we all go through ups and downs in our faith journeys, and most of my downs came from interactions with other people… people who believed they held the keys to Catholicism. People that held the door open so narrowly that it was hard to fit through. People who didn’t understand the idea of meeting people where they were.
And in a very short amount of time, I went from someone who felt inspired by faith to someone who felt shamed by it. I no longer believed I belonged. I no longer believed I was wanted.
Slowly and through multiple twists and turns, I found my way back.
But it’s still through that lens that I view the faith of my children.
I think of all it has taken me to get where I am. To get to where I am starting to trust. To get to where I’m starting to find peace.
And they have it so simply and so honestly and so earnestly.
Earlier this week, my daughter wrote a thank you note to her teacher for Teacher’s Appreciation Week. After the usual pleasantries, she told her teacher that she reminded her of Jesus because Jesus explained important truths in simple ways.
A few weeks earlier, I had been under the weather. She wrote me a get well letter. On it, she drew a picture of Jesus on the cross, and she told me that if I feel bad now, I should just think about how Jesus felt then.
And it’s all these little things that touch me.
They don’t touch me because of any hidden profundity or wisdom. They touch me because of their simplicity. They touch me because they show me that she has a faith that is deeply integrated into her understanding of the world.
I’ve told her many times that she is a better person than me. She always laughs, not really understanding what I mean by that.
But it’s true. Her faith and her trust are something to be cherished. And as her mother, it’s my duty to make sure they are protected.
But as I’m doing that, I’m remembering that our children teach us more than we could ever teach them, and they show us parts of humanity that are too well hidden by those of us taller than a countertop.
They are our reminders that innocence exists. And they also remind us of the innocence that still exists somewhere hidden deep within ourselves.
This world will batter them and shake them. It will make them question things. It will break things they hold sacred.
But that doesn’t need to worry me as much as it does. Because my job isn’t to keep them from all harm. It’s to help lead them home at the end of their journeys. And when I see where they start, I’m reminded that where they are headed isn’t far from where they are at this very moment.