And God waits

Something is weighing heavy on my mind so, in this article, I would like to direct my words to parents, as well as our young people. Several events over the last few months have directed my thoughts toward the relationship between parents and their children. Hopefully, this article will open up some discussion in your home. 

One event that took place last month involved the passing of a young man of a drug overdose and the near loss of another had a friend not called for help in time. While this one happened at a local university, it has also happened in colleges and universities all over the country and in neighborhoods far and wide. Why have they lost their way? What are they missing in their lives that even lets them consider such risks? Having shared in the suffering of this young man’s friends and parent, I’m just left with a hollow feeling of helplessness. But I believe that those who go astray are seeking something that they are missing in their lives, whether it is love, or acceptance or a relationship with their parents or particularly with God.

The second event was the birth of my grandson Connor. This event was one of pure joy and hope and excitement, but still clouded by the fear of the loss of children and young people to drugs and suicide and a world that seems to have just gone nuts. What will the world be like as he grows up? What do we do that will help Connor grow into a young man who will be all that God created him to be and perhaps even make a real difference in this world? That is the mission of parents, grandparents and caregivers, isn’t it?

I fear that in today’s society parents seem to have given up. Many are resigned to the fact that there is nothing they can do to help their children lead lives centered on the values of our faith. Are parents saying that there is nothing they can or should have done to impart the knowledge and values to their child? How else could that knowledge and those values get imparted? It’s not like we are born with them? Do we want this knowledge to come from modern culture, TV or peer groups? Youth still want loving parents who set boundaries and expectations. I’m convinced of that! I believe that today’s youth haven’t changed. Parents have. Ignorance on the part of the parents is not an excuse. Parents have a duty and a responsibility to pass the faith and values of Christ to their children. 

My wife and I have two daughters in their 30s who are now moms themselves. Ever since they could talk, they have shared their challenges at school, their life questions, their struggles and every other aspect of their lives. Some may say we just raised talkers, others see that we have an incredible open bond with our daughters. What an honor it is when your child reaches out to you, their parent, to help them make a decision. There still isn’t a day that goes by, even with them raising their own families, many miles away, that we don’t hear from one of them, sharing what is going on in their lives. 

I mention this not as a badge of honor or that we’re such great parents, but I mention it to make what I feel is a more valuable point — the very fact that as they grew into adulthood, we knew about what was going on in their lives and we cared about what was going on in their lives. We know because our girls share everything with us. They seek advice and they share their worries and their successes. 

We have worked hard since they were children to share with them our faith, our values and our expectations. We have given them the knowledge and the challenge from a very early age to go out and challenge the status quo — to be loving, faith-filled and faithful followers of Christ. Not preachy but real, not fake, but authentic followers of His Word — to live in a very ordinary way, an extraordinary life. 

I was once told that our daughters are the way they are because they respect us too much and don’t want to disappoint us by not living up to our values and expectations. I hope that isn’t the reason. I know they live the lives they do because they respect themselves and love God. 

I apologize if this is sounding a little preachy. And most likely I’m preaching to the choir in this newspaper. However, parents, don’t forget, you can’t just talk the talk, you need to walk the walk, as examples that your children will emulate.  In our family we just tried as best as we could to live our values, to state our values when different situations arose and to ask our girls questions about how and what they were feeling or doing and to challenge them to live up to the expectations we set for them. And our great hope is that they will continue to share these values and expectations with their own children.

Parents, unfortunately we don’t have to pass a course or get a license to be parents. However, if we lead a life centered on the values of our faith and spend the necessary time to impart those values to our children, then our children will know what is expected. Don’t leave the knowledge or the values to others. And while we surely must put our trust in God, we are called to act. It is the only way your young person will learn how to live a life of Christian values.

Young people, give your parents a chance. Talk to them. In most cases they might be frightened to start a discussion as they don’t want to alienate you. And while it may not be cool, try it, they just might surprise you! Most likely they won’t end up writing about it in a newspaper so it will be just between you and them.

If parents and young people could just take a few minutes a day to talk and share their thoughts, hopes, expectations, and aspirations maybe the lines of true communication would develop. Not just the surface chit chats but the real deep stuff — sharing, listening and suggesting. I can’t guarantee that all will turn out OK, but even if difficulties arise, open and true communications will assure that you’ll get through it — together.

I’d like to close this article out with a wonderful quote that I saw on the wall of the hospital nursery where my daughter gave birth to her son several weeks ago. It gives me great hope for this world. I have to admit that I was amazed to see this large sign in a secular hospital, but there it was filling a whole wall! I believe it states so beautifully what I’ve tried to share with you today. It is from Marian Wright Edelman “Guide My Feet,” 1995: 

“When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps of a very humble home or perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it in the baby’s mind, and then — God waits. The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.” 

Yes, indeed for our sake, God is not discouraged with humanity. It is that which we can hold onto that will get us through a time that these ideals and values are threatened by commercialism, drugs and violence. 

Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 37 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and a two-year-old and three-week-old grandson with another on the way.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts