I would like to begin this discussion with what we know for sure. We know that God is all-knowing and all-loving. God can hold us spellbound by telling us things about ourselves we never fully realized. He could tell us how long every inch of our hair is or how many breaths we took when we first entered the world. He has the intellectual capacity to know the outcome of every event in our lives from the day we were conceived until the day we were joined with Him in eternity. It’s hard to conceptually grasp what He knows, but the facts is: He does know us better than we know ourselves.
Now just for a moment imagine what it must feel like every day knowing that many of your children that you love with all your heart will hurt you deeply. Being God, you are still hopeful they will come to you for assistance. To be fair, many do come to you, but ultimately many will cause hurt and suffering. God must find it difficult to be all-knowing when He knows some of His children will cause someone else pain by making wrong choices and causing such painful hurt towards others.
God has to watch while His children say they hate each other. He watches when His teachers and leaders of His Church make horrible mistakes. He has to watch when life is not respected and someone commits murder. (“The Lord looks from heaven. He sees all the sons of man from this dwelling place; He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth.” Psalm 33: 13-14) He has to watch, over and over again, wars being fought and precious lives ending even when the killing is done in His name. He has to observe the abuse we cause ourselves; rather than reach out to Him, we reach for a drug or alcohol to help us cope.
While all of this is going on with His children, He has to sit back and listen to all the prayers that eventually come to Him asking why He allowed these horrible things to happen. I’m sure you have heard someone make this comment, “If God is real, why did He allow this specific tragedy to occur?” Being God, He knows He has given us all the gift of free will. He knew when He gave this gift of freedom it also gave us the freedom to commit sin.
So He sent us His son, Jesus, to save us from our sins, allowing us the opportunity for forgiveness of our sins. Yet, as his children, we still continue to sin.
Does any of this remind you of being a parent? We want to protect our children from making mistakes and making poor choices. There are so many temptations out there that it truly is difficult trying to keep our children safe. Sometimes the choices they make end in huge mistakes. Just like God, you do your best to help your children through it.
Being a parent provides us our greatest joys but also has the ability to give us our deepest sorrows.
I grew up in a family of nine children. Every day my mother started her day at 5:30 AM. With a rosary in her hand and a cup of coffee, she sat at her kitchen table and waited as each of us woke to get ready for the day. She asked if our homework was completed. She prepared oatmeal or passed out bowls of cereal. Our uniforms were hanging ironed in the closet. The Catholic school we attended was paid for based on affordable household income. We were all able to attend as long as our parents donated what they could afford in the Sunday basket at Mass. My mother saw this as a gift from God.
We grew up in Nebraska, where winters were very cold. She made sure we had good coats. Many of these were donated by St. Vincent DePaul. With so many children, she checked to see if there was a test or something specific going on in school that day. She paid particular attention to the Religion classes. My mother loved her children with every ounce of her being. She wore her mother bear coat even when mistakes were made. Sometimes it was hard, but she always seemed to forgive the bad choices we made.
My siblings and I were fortunate to have our parents as role models and ultimately we tried to follow in this pattern in our own lives becoming the best parents we knew how to be.
The other day it struck me, What if you were God and you had billions of children to love? You were so happy when they made good choices. Sometimes they made the wrong decisions. You did everything possible to encourage love. Ministers, priests, religious sisters, bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis; they were all doing what they could to bring your Word to the world. You listened closely to the prayers of the faithful every day. Some were so honest and wonderful. Others were said out of hurt and anger. The hardest ones to hear were “Please God, save my mother, my brother or my husband or wife or, worst of all, my child. I will do anything if you save them.” God’s response is always “I’m listening.”
As a parent, I know teaching your children to be strong and independent is critical. Teaching them faith is necessary. Encouraging them to be there for others as you have tried to do by example and with your words is so important. But we are human and we wish sometimes that we can take back some of the mistakes and poor choices we have made as parents.
Why am I comparing parenting to the role of God? In reality, how can the finite truly describe the Infinite? I think for most of us it is in parenting a child that we feel our deepest love and understanding of God because God is perfect love. Scripture says that “Man is made in the images and likeness of God.” (Gen 1: 27) Since God is a spirit, the likeness is not physical. Rather it is moral and natural likeness. It is His personality consisting of intellect and emotions. These are the tools we reach for as parents.
I know God does not expect us to be perfect and knows we will make mistakes. But imagine just for a moment if you are God and all of your children try hard to reach inside themselves and make choices driven by love. Imagine they are using Jesus and His mother Mary as their examples of this love. As a parent you would feel good, but as God, you are ecstatic, because after all, God is our Father and our example of perfect love!
Copyright 2017 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh