Historically, I have struggled when the young people in my care make poor choices. I have tended to take their decisions personally, and to see those moments as a failure on my part, thinking that their choices reflect badly on me.
As a parent, this has caused me to turn inward on myself, ruminating on how I am failing my kids and students, because, obviously, if I weren’t, they would be perfect little saints.
Even writing that sentence, I have to smile. Because removed from the heat of the moment, I can see how silly it is to think that. But in the moment itself, that is exactly the kind of thinking I have tended to engage in. If my children or students choose poorly, then, to me, that means I am somehow failing as a parent or teacher.
However, in doing this, I make my place in the grand scheme of things distorted, larger than life, out of proportion. As if me doing everything right (an impossible task) will somehow result in the people in my care doing everything right as well.
When I set myself back down in my proper place amongst the bigger picture, and zoom out even a little bit, I can gain a better perspective.
For example, it isn’t God’s fault that we choose to sin. It isn’t a bad reflection on God, and it doesn’t mean that God is anything less than a good, good Father to us.
In fact, our ability to choose is a reflection of His goodness to us.
Those opportunities to choose—even if we choose wrongly, are chances to learn and carve away those parts of ourselves that are not yet fully conformed to love. It allows us to choose love in the first place. We need to see the difference between where we are now and where we have the potential to be so we know how to orient ourselves moving forward. Our failures are a beautiful opportunity to learn and to move closer to Him.
The same applies to me and my relationships with my children and students. As a person entrusted with young people both in my home and in my classroom, I am learning to view these opportunities as a gift. When they make poor choices, I can get a good look at areas where my children and students have an opportunity to grow in character and holiness. And I have the honor of helping to guide them on that path.
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Our failures are a beautiful opportunity to learn and to move closer to Him. #catholicmom
Those moments have, in some ways, very little to do with me at all, other than the fact that they are opportunities for me to step up in my role as one who guides young people, and to help them turn back to love. To grow their virtue muscles. To help them see the difference between who they are today and who they can be, and to spur them forward. To encourage them. To help light the way.
When I view things like that, I put myself in my proper place. I put their choices in their proper place. And I can even rejoice at this thing called Free Will, and the opportunity it offers us to be sanctified throughout our lives so, when the time comes, we will be ready to meet God, Love itself, with arms wide open.
And so, in the end, it isn’t a poor reflection on me when the youth in my care make the wrong choice. In fact, it is an honor to be present, and to be ever at the ready to help.
Note: This article originally appeared on Catholic Mom