To be honest, I have always struggled with the idea of spiritual parenthood. I’m ashamed to say that it never struck me to be “as good” as the “real thing.” I’ve had a few experiences lately that are changing that for me and deepening my understanding of the power and significance of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood.
In my role as a member of the adjunct faculty at Franciscan University and as advisor to the men’s Theology of the Body household on campus, I’ve seen the number of young men and women–even those who come from faithful homes–who are aching for a healthy image of what a mother and father are. We regularly have students at our house for various things and my wife and I are consistently surprised by the compliments we get for things we take for granted about family life. “You guys get along so great together!” “You all laugh so much. It’s so nice to be in a home where people like each other.” Simple things like having a group of kids over for an inexpensive spaghetti dinner have yielded levels of gratitude that go way beyond simple politeness. The kids are calling my wife “Mama Popcak” (which simultaneously warms her heart and makes her feel 1000 years old). They seem to light up when I show up, unexpected, at school events and I’m not really sure why except that they seem genuinely and deeply touched that I care about them. We’re having a real and, frankly, surprising impact on the lives of these young men and women without really even trying. It just drives home to me how much the world, and especially our young people, are starving for adults to love them.
It’s giving me a new appreciation for people who really have mastered the art of spiritual motherhood and fatherhood. It was in light of all this that I rediscovered this song by Sara Groves. It is probably the most powerful testament to the significance of spiritual parenthood I’ve ever encountered. Take a moment to listen. Just do it someplace where you can cry like a baby because I’ve never been able to get through the first verse–not once–without bursting into tears. It’s worth it though, trust me.
(Apologies. The only version I can find online was used as a background for someone’s youtube video of a mission trip, but I think it’s pretty effective all the same.)