Being the Example

"Being the example" by Claire McGarry (

Image credit: Pexels (2019), CC0/PD


As school was winding down last month, my son, Mason, was cast in a local community theatre production. Rehearsals were three times a week, for three- and four hour-stretches. Additionally, he was still on the track team, with three practices and/or meets a week. And, of course, there was still homework.

Needless to say, he was burning the candle at both ends, and his face and attitude showed it. I appreciated that he had a lot on his plate, but the dark cloud he carried around was darkening us all. I was just about to call him on it when I looked in the mirror. 

I’ve been writing for a while now about my rough transition back to work after 14 years of staying home with my kids. I’ve tried to be transparent about my mood swings, struggles, and bad parenting during it all. Regardless, no words could really capture it. Yet, Mason’s attitude sure did. 

It’s humbling to see yourself reflected back in the mirror of your children. Seeing my attitude in Mason helped me realize I didn’t role-model that struggle the way I wanted to.

Yes, it’s important to show our kids that we flounder with new challenges. But then we’re supposed to show them how to persevere and rise above, despite that. Unfortunately, my behavior taught my kids that when things get tough, we should whine, pout, and lash out at the world.

It was what it was, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. However, I have chosen a new path.

Now, I’m doing what I can to show my kids that even in the midst of difficulty, joy still exists and life can be enjoyed because of it. I’m also trying to show them that when we’re overwhelmed and empty, we can still be kind and patient with others.

Most of all, I’m trying to role-model surrendering it all to God. He’s the only one in control anyway, and if we have any chance of getting through, it’s through His help and guidance.

Words and the little life lessons we try to impart to our kids along the way are great. But it’s our example that speaks volumes. The next time my example is reflected back to me, I want to be proud of what I see.

[tweet: Our example speaks much louder than any life lesson we try to teach -@clairemcgarry2″]

Copyright 2019 Claire McGarry


About Author

Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and All is Blessing: Finding God in the Tensions of Life, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.


  1. Jacqueline McNeil on

    Once again, Claire, your complete honesty here about seeing and acknowledging your very real struggles as a fully engaged mom and writer is both refreshing and inspiring. Such honesty is what truly melts the Heart of Jesus and evokes His tender Love, Understanding and Compassion to get you through such struggles. I am imagining Him saying, “You, Claire, are doing a better job as a mom than you give yourself credit for. My Love for you knows no bounds. Just remember, I’m ever there beside you, and will never fail supplying you with the wisdom, love, patience and strength you need for every challenge, as you so faithfully fulfill your sacred mission as a loving mother. Next time you look in the mirror, KNOW I’m there, and smile back at me!”

    • Karen korza on

      This was awesome. God has been speaking to my own heart about surrending it to Him and leaving it at His feet. Thanks for the confirmation.
      You are such a wonderful loving mother…not because of perfection, but because you choose to be Christlike in your parenting and life.

      • I hope you listen to that whisper from God, Karen. Surrendering is awesome!! Sadly, I find I’m pulling back the control daily. But the good news is, I get to practice surrendering on a daily basis. Praying grace your way, Karen!

    • I love imagining Jesus whispering these words to me, Jackie. Thank you for being His instrument – in this case, and in oh so many others! Blessings to you always!!!

  2. It truly is humbling when we see our children model our behaviors, whether for the good or bad. There have been so many times in my life that I have needed to take a step back and reflect after watching my children mimic my actions. But God is so good, because through those humbling moments, we find true grace and forgiveness.

    • Amen to that, Danielle! I finally get how much grace there is in those humbling moments. It can be a bit painful getting to them, but it’s so worth it. I’m further humbled (in all the good ways 🙂 that you read and commented. Thank you!

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