Huge disclaimer: I haven’t read this book, which is apparently about how faith is lost or kept over generations, but I’m very curious about it. Still, I have been thinking a lot of its summary via this book review in the New York Times although I’ll admit that my thoughts are a little jumbled this afternoon (I know. I’m writing about a book review, not actually reading something! Sigh). The premise of the book hits a nerve with me, namely that many families intend to pass on faith and many may even try valiantly…but something happens in some families such that it simply doesn’t take root. Sometimes someone could point to a specific reason, but other times it seems more opaque or hard to grasp.
By way of confession, perhaps this is so interesting because this is one of my biggest fears: that my husband and I may miss something that is intrinsically necessary for our children to grow up in the faith and make it theirs. And I’m not talking about literally teaching them the faith, which we’re already trying to do, but somehow messing up something big in the actual “living it all out” that creates a stumbling block for them. Scary!
I say this is my biggest fear because I’ve seen it first hand – my father is the eldest of 12(!), was raised in a devoutly Catholic home with much love surrounding them. One sibling even went to seminary for awhile, so that seems promising, right? Big family, teaching virtue, selflessness, and love of Christ? And yet, ALL (ALL!!!!!) left the Church. This has been heartbreaking, especially for my grandparents. What happened there? I have noooooo idea.While this fear can get the better of me sometimes (especially the prideful, sinful side that doesn’t want to fail), at the end of the day, all we can do is do our very best…first and foremost in growing our own hearts and souls towards Christ, and secondly trying to help our daughter and any future children to do the same. Our best will be in the little moments, each and every hour, each and every day…but these will still be less than perfect, as both of us are. Still, I have to hope and believe that God will take that effort and do what he wishes and needs with it for the good of their souls… and ours. He loves them even more.
While guiding souls is our most important roles as parents, we can’t think that it is “all us.” We must pray. Pray hard for our little ones. We must teach. We must model, as best we can in all of our brokenness. We must show them repentant spirits when we are wrong, which may be often. We must ask forgiveness when needed. We must love firmly, warmly, gently, fiercely. We must not only teach them doctrine, but how to have a Relationship, and prioritize it above all others. But at the end of the day, it is God and that Relationship that we have to entrust them to. Which is the whole point really, isn’t it: knowing and studying the truth, but ultimately taking the leap of faith and trusting?