My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jesus Take the Wheel!

My eldest son Nick just started driving.  At first I was petrified to be in the car with him since he was so inexperienced, but after a few times out I realized that Nick is really a very good driver.  One day as I was taking him out for a lesson I noticed that I had stopped concentrating on how he was driving.  It was as though I had been with an experienced driver for a moment.

That experience made me take note of who is really in control over my life?  Who is in my driver's seat?  So many times we want to grab the wheel and step on the break of life, but God has it all under control....or does He?  I was sitting here thinking about all the things I would be doing differently if I were God.  First, I would give all the power, grace, and pleasure to those people who make a conscious decision to do what is good, and decent, and loving.  Then I would make all the people who are self-centered, mean, or jealous suffer!  Next, I would only open doors of opportunity to those people who chose to do His divine will, and I would not allow them any obstacles.  Last, I would make it so that everyone can see the pain and suffering in their neighbor, and when the see it, they MUST do something about it instead of ignore it like we like to do, you know, pretend it really doesn't exist.  If someone sees an injustice or suffering and does nothing about it, I would make sure that person suffered even more.

Now doesn't that all sound great!  Why doesn't he make it simple like that?  Why does God try to complicate everything?  After sitting back, relaxing, and forgetting my son was an inexperienced driver, something finally hit me.  Maybe God really is in control.  He has to be, because if he weren't there would be even more suffering in the world.  Unlike me, God is merciful! Thanks be to God.

The reality is, we are all guilty of selfishness, turning our heads on people in need, and not following the will of God.  If the world ran by my standards and conditions there would be no one left to do any good at all because we are all guilty and sinful.  I think if we really tried to let go of the wheel and sit back patiently, we might just enjoy the ride and love where we end up!  Instead, we impatiently reach over and try to stir the wheel, we put our foot on the break or try to push on the gas.  We don't wait with patience.  We tend to think "whoever has their hand on this wheel does not have enough experience and they don't know what they are doing!"

I hope I can practice what I preach in this column.  I hope I can learn to be patient and not so self-centered.  I hope I can put myself out there to help someone in need even though I may have needs left unmet, but until I can do all those things....I guess I will just have to hope in God's mercy.

So sit back and enjoying the ride!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Is it wrong to question one's faith?

   I have two teenage boys.  They are at that age where I hope they start thinking about their faith.  When I was their age I used to really question my faith.  I remember thinking that God did not really exist, that He was just a made up fairy tale that my parents told me about in order to try and control me (I was pretty wild).   I had a girlfriend, she is still my girlfriend actually, whose mother was very Catholic.  They were Philippine and they had 8 kids in their family just like we did.  I used to go over to her house and have these long battles with her mother, who no matter how worked up I got, used to always respond confidently and calmly to me.  I look back on those days and I am ever so grateful for the time she took with me to help me understand God and my faith a little better.

   Recently, when my husband and my eldest son were not home, my 14 year old son decided to take me on....spiritually I mean.  It was like a flashback of old times.  He came at me with his ideals that "God is like Santa Clause" or, "He is just a mean person waiting to jump on me every time I do something bad" theories.  And I sat there thinking about my sweet Philippine friend's mother, so in that moment I became her, calm, confident, and loving.  We went back and forth for about an hour discussing every possible motive for good and evil, and battling the case for Christ and God in the world.  In the end we came to a few understandings.

   I told my son many things that I thought would help him during this time of spiritual growth, but one thing I hope helped him understand is that his faith is his alone.  No one can give him faith, or teach him how to love God, he has to learn that on his own.  I encouraged him to read the New Testament and to educate himself about Jesus and the love He had for him.  I repeated to him, "in no way is God a tyrant, or mean, or vengeful," God is only good.  God is Love (John 3:16), therefore, God only loves him and wants him to be happy.

   In the end, I think my son understood what I was trying to say.  It was really a grace filled moment for both of us.  My son is on a journey now to seek higher understanding, not from teachers or people who think they have all the answers, but from God Himself.  One thing is clear I told him, that everyone will die someday, whether 7 or 70 years old, what you do while you are on this earth will determine how you will spend the rest of your life after death.  You will either end up either in heaven or hell for all of eternity.  God is not a tyrant, He loves each one of us like a good father loves his children.  I explained that if I gave my son a curfew and he broke it I would learn that if he can not be responsible with the small responsibilities I give to him then he will most certainly not be responsible with the big things I ask of him.  That is how God is with each one of us.  He gives us opportunities to succeed and to be socially and morally responsible, to others, to the poor, to the needy, the sick, etc.  If we fail in those areas we most certainly will fail when the big things come up.

   My hope for all you you with children is that you realize that when your kids doubt or questions their faith, it really is a good thing!  It means they are wanting to understand it more deeply.  It is when they do not think about their faith that should cause us concern.  I am so grateful for my memories of my Philippine friend because without my own personal experience of doubting my faith, I don't think I could have ever understood how my son felt.  I'm glad he came to me, and I am glad I was there for him.  

Thank you God for sending me Your Son, and for giving me my son as well! :)