Getting together as a family is often a challenge for us – My husband, Daniel and our son, Mathieu works Sunday. It’s often only Aleeza and I at home. All the craziness of maintaining one bubble under Covid-19 lockdown takes it toll on each of us psychologically and emotionally. While our world is thrown into chaos, our love and faith in God remains steadfast.
A look back to Easter Sunday was a special day for our family. It’s the first time we were able to get together to go to Sunday Mass. This was before lockdowns and curfews. We maintained our family bubble in St. Ignatius. It was a bit daunting for me, as the number of times I have been out in public since Covid – 19 can be counted on one hand – 3.
With great blessings from God, Aleeza was baptized and I was confirmed at St. Ignatius in Montreal into the Catholic Faith.
Getting involved and participating in these groups really helped both my daughter and I to stay focused on Jesus. It helped in answering hard knock questions about the meaning of life and our path in it.
Getting involved in a group setting via Zoom was at first daunting on me. As I have expressed in previous post, I am very much the awkward nerd who is not at ease in socializing. My passion/s rips across me, and I often need to minimize my behavior not to scare those around me. Hence direct and candid as I am, I often have to harness myself. My own daughter often tells me, “Mom! Tell me in simple language. I don’t understand you”. I was not sure I would be able to participate in either Alpha or my Camino group. Thanks be to God, these groups have enriched in my spiritual growth.
Trusting in God’s hand to lead me is based on prayer. It is also an open humbleness on my part to know my will is strong, and that for change to happen in my spiritual life, I must let go of my need to control, and give it into His Almighty hands to guide me. Walking by faith and not by sight.
It is only by letting go, that God’s abundant graces pours down upon me. Sometimes it is like a torrential downpouring that can overwhelm me, but I have come to understand that only by the immensity of it, that I can be knocked down onto my knees in complete adoration of Him.
I have discovered that my Jesus, is a jealous lover, who does not want my focus to be anywhere else except upon Him. Since my confirmation, my soul has fallen more deeply in love with Him. I long to please Him. Endless songs of praise pieces my heart:
my hands stretched upwards
with eyes tightly shut
ifeel your caress
like a gentle wisp of breeze
delicate and feathery
my whole being soaring
Out of my heart come forth songs
to a lover who i know waits patiently for me.
i am His earthly bride, and all i long for
is to please Him in every thing i do
There is a new found purpose
in every steps i take in this dust bowl
All my shortcoming exposed
there is no shame in sharing with Him
the deepest secrets of my soul
For i know He forgives me
washing away the stains that separates Him from me
After my confirmation Easter Sunday, I felt my spirit lift in joy as I received the grace of God into my soul. At the same time this pass week has been a time of great reflection. Lord God, where do you want me to go from here? What do you want me to do?
All I know is that every cell of my body and soul yearns to put Jesus at the center…to never walk back into a life of secularism and sin. 40 years of wandering in the wilderness to finally come before Jesus – humbled – here I am. Finally I submit to His will, and His alone.
That night, a song I recall singing as a child came to mind:
“They’ll Know We Are Christians”
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord; We are one int he Spirit, we are one in the Lord; And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.
Chorus: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand; We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand; And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.
We Will work with each other, we will work side by side; We will work with each other, we will work side by side; And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.
All praise to the Father, from whom all things come; And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son. And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.
After some research, I discovered it is a Christian hymn written in the 1960s by then Fr. Peter Scholtes.
The blessed message I got from God that night was, my journey is just beginning. I must regardless of my fears, go out and share the love of Jesus by my actions:
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
No it will not be easy, especially as I live in a world gone astray. It embraces secularism and makes a mockery of all things Holy. It is hard to step out in a world where the TRUTH is veiled in lies and deceit. It is even harder today amidst our cancel culture, as one thought or word that is not politically correct, immediately gets labelled as “crazy” or a “radical”. How do I express love in a world that embraces the “me” god. After a week of contemplation and prayer, I can only say, Jesus I trust in you!
Jesus I trust in you.
Jesus I trust in you.
Jesus I trust in you.
Know that as long as we “love” one another with a charity of heart, Jesus is right there propping us up.
Jesus, grace me with the gift of charity, to be able to love – especially those I find hard to love.
May God bless each of you as you radiate His love in a world that has forgotten who He is.
Let each of us join with the Spirit of God to alight into the hearts of those near us – love.
Many years ago, when my children were young, a neighbor invited our family to attend Catholic Mass with her. I must say at the time, my eyes were closed and all my prejudice towards the Catholic faith prevented me from appreciating the experience. Now many years later, I can honestly say that I was ignorant. I was blinded by many wrong ideas about the Catholic church.
Now, I can humbly say I was wrong in all my misconceptions of the Holy Mass and of the Holy Church of God.
When Covid-19 forced Christians to stay at home and churches were closed worldwide, I found that my quiet time with God was littered with a restless and wondering mind, and I was sometimes at a lost as to what to study or mediate on in the scripture. I felt a lack of self discipline. I prayed for help. I search and watched YouTube steams from different evangelical denomination, from Dispensationalist with their fear inducing fire sermons on the one hand, to feel good meditative scripture reading with a positive vibe, and to mega churches and their use of contemporary music and multimedia to draw in our tech savvy youths. All these magnified a gap for me. I was missing the feeling of a home, and of being a part of a family.
Writing in down my thoughts and prayers, and asking for guidance, I found I was serendipitously being guided towards books by Catholic writers, live stream of Catholic commentators, and other Catholic YouTubers. I remember my exclamation at the time was, “really God, the Catholic Church!”
I read Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahns, and although I am not a Bible academic, I understood the issues in doctrine that He addressed along with what moved him towards the Catholic church. I recall asking much of the same questions as I went from one Protestant denomination to another, always feeling something was missing. I could relate to his experiences.
I grew up within an Alliance tradition and returned to the Alliance tradition (when St. Stephens closed), but did not feel a sense of belonging. My own family was divided. My husband and son wanted a church like the Anglican one we use to attend, but this church has long closed. They both loved the family feel as well as the all cultural and socio economic diversity of St. Stephens Anglican Church. For myself, I longed for the feeling of family, and a total experience of worship. I wanted a Church that encompasses discipleship, discipline, structure, history, and true substance. Please note these are my experiences and am not trivializing or criticizing Evangelicalism Christians. My daughter still favors Churchome and their style of sharing God’s words. I encourage her to continue to be a part of Churchome. She is also in a teen Alpha group member of a Catholic parish. In the end, I think what’s important is getting closer to Jesus.
I recently confessed to my siblings of my walk towards Catholicism. It’s a walk that requires acceptance by the Catholic Church, and a journey into a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus. After much prayer and asking God for signs, and being the proactive person that I am, I looked for a Catholic Church in my parish. They also have a 7 day live stream of their Mass.
I recall my child like “awe” when I heard the scripture at the beginning of Mass, and I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, the Mass uses Bible scriptures!” When I think about it, I can honestly say, “I was so ignorant, what else would the Mass be about if it’s not the Scriptures?”
It was during the Holy Eucharist and partaking in the Body and Blood of Jesus, that I realized this is what I have been missing. For the first time, “communion” came alive for me. After Covid-19 I felt it was so trivialized when I recall one Pastor telling his congregation any carb would do for the Body, and any drink would do for the Blood as long as we imagined it to be just that – the Body and Blood of Jesus. I was quite annoyed when my daughter went to get a muffin and juice saying it was what she was using. I didn’t want to scold her as she was participating. For myself, I felt it was a trivialization of a Holy experience, especially as the next time we had virtual communion, my daughter grabbed a bowl of chips and juice because the Pastor said it was ok as long as it was carb.
I had to put my foot down spiritually, and found myself in front of the Catholic Church.
My post today is especially for members of my family, to understand why I am here. To guide them in understanding that the Catholic Church is a home coming experience for me. I feel I am now a part of a Christian family with members world wide. I share with all of them the same daily Scripture readings, and participate with all of them in the daily Holy reunification with Jesus in partaking in His Body and Blood. It is a family that respects and acknowledges the history of the early church. Moreover, it looks to the early church as a bedrock for it’s faith and commitment to Jesus.
The living Jesus is with me in my daily prayer. I find myself having a deeper understanding of His sacrifice for us as I pray the Rosary. Each day my appreciation deepens for Mary the Mother of Jesus. Just as I have renewed respect and appreciation for all the Saints who have sacrificed themselves for Jesus.
Praise be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Exploring The Christian Faith
As a starting point, I suggest Alpha. I have taken this course 30 years ago, and will redo it in January as part of my journey into the Catholic Church. It is an awesome course with a limited number of people to maximize on sharing questions about life as well as a journey in the exploration of faith in the Christian faith and in Jesus. Try Alpha | Find an Alpha Course Near You to Try
Different Christian groups regardless of denominations have Alpha courses available. It may take a little research to find one in your area.
For Newbies to the Mass
I suggest you look for a Catholic Church near your neighborhood. A local parish takes care of believers in their area. They also provide programs and charity work for the needy in their area. This is way to support your community.
The Mass for new comers can be a bit confusing and intimidating, but if you prepare ahead of time, it will be less daunting, and you will find yourself having a deeper experience. The Mass starts off with Daily Readings. All Catholics worldwide have the same readings. All readings are from the Bible. Although my parish sends me out a weekly reading list, I also use an app on my iPhone: Laudate – CatholicApps.com, or you can subscribe to a number of Catholic sites (in the U.S.A.): Daily Bible Readings, Audio and Video Every Morning | USCCB.
I am lazy so I like to have these readings on my iPhone. I read them in the morning before Mass. This helps me follow along.
In Canada, the readings come from the The Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible or the NIV, while in the U.S. they used the The Ignatius Bible which is a Revised Standard Version. There are free Catholic Bible apps. The one I use is One Bible. I like this apps as I use a few different versions, and sometimes will read a few interpretations for better insight. If I am online using Microsoft Edge, I use BibleGateway.com.
After the Readings, the Priest proceeding over the Mass reads from the Gospels followed by a short message based on the readings. My Priest always leaves an opened ended question at the end – food for thought. As I am a visual learner, I follow along by using the Sunday Missal, which has a collection of all the Eucharist, special Prayers, etc. for the year. Your local parish supplies this.
To help me understand that I was not the only one looking for home, the program The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi | EWTN helped me when I needed signs from God. I had read Hahn’s book, so watching His interview on this program was an affirmation for me.
Dr. Scott Hahn’s First Interview:
Dr. Scott Hahn 2020:
This is my personal journey. I wanted to share this with my readers, especially my own family. During quiet time this morning I had asked the Holy Spirit for inspiration and guidance. I have been feeling a bit “blah” yesterday and felt I had nothing to write about or share. While I was making lunch, images of my family flashed in my mind along with this feeling of light bursting out from within. I was ready to share with them my story.
This is a seemingly simple statement. In fact, it can be very difficult to do.
What is will? How do I define it?
I needed a day in reflection and pray to understand more deeply what God wanted me to understand in this prayer. I had a challenging time praying this prayer yesterday, and had to make a conscious effort to buckle down and pray it 15 times. I actually felt a glimmer of rebelliousness in me, and I procrastinated until I summited to God’s will and made the time to pray the Christ the King Novena – Day 6 – My will verse God’s will. This is a very real phenomenon in my prayer life. It is when I feel my rebellious nature surface that I inwardly recognize I must submit to God, because there are worldly factors coming into play to create a division between me and Him.
What does the concept of “will’ means to me? I had to reflect upon its meaning in my life. My will – my human ability to make decisions of outward expressions or actions, from what is amplified from within. At the most basic level it is my personal selfishness.
I See, I Want, I Act
At the most basic level – let’s follow the basis understanding that – my will is one based on one characteristic of my humanity. Let’s look at my selfishness. When I think about it, I can define will as the inner action or desire which moves me to act outwardly. Sometimes, my inward desire can lead me to an impulsive bad action, like it did the other night when I saw a plate of Ferrero-Rocher on the counter. I liberally helped myself to 3, and ate it one after the other. What motivated me? Well, I love the taste of milk chocolate. Seeing the half empty plate of Ferrero-Rocher, I didn’t even try to control my impulse. Why eat three in a row? I was greedy to eat it and one was just not enough. Let’s not forget I was being gluttonous, “I better eat them now before they all disappear!”
Wow this also made me think of impulse shopping, but will not mention it here, but my point is we are flawed human beings that act on instinct and sometimes we don’t have the control mechanism to stop.
How often has my own desires lead to actions contrary to the will of God. What is God’s will? What does it mean God’s will mean to me?
Yes, I am ashamed to admit that instead of reining in my inward desires, I let my outward behavior act out.
When I think about God’s will, I think of the Lord’s Prayer which we pray daily.
Pray, then, in this way:
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven . . .”
Matthew 6:9-10 (NASB)
Your will for me is for me to abide by Your will, and live it as if your Kingdom is already here. It means for me to take action first by inviting you into my life. First, I confess to my Lord Jesus that I am a sinner. I cannot control my own impulses, and I am flawed through and through. It is only by Your redeeming grace I am saved.
As I have freedom of will, and it is my choice to acknowledge my sins, and confess it. It is also based on my freedom to chose that I invite the Holy Spirit to come into my heart (being) and guide me.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven,” is my clear invitation for Your guidance, and to open my eyes so that I can see clearly the difference between right and wrong. I invite Your grace to give me the strength to abide in the will of God – His will and His alone.
Yes, I will falter, and I am ashamed to admit it. However the next time I am tempted, I will have a better understanding and awareness of my flaws. The next day my husband included in his grocery bag, 4 cans of Pringles. After nagging him to not buy junk food anymore, I refrained from eating any (actually said a silent prayer asking for self control), for if I start, I will eat the whole can in one sitting. I realize this is a very silly example, but it is something that came to mind as I spend the day reflecting upon my will verse God’s will. These two examples are also my way to include a dose of honest humor. After all, in our walk with Jesus there are often funny anecdotes, just as there are deeply moving ones.
I know if we think about it, there are many examples in our lives that can highlight examples when our will and God’s will clashes, just as there are many examples of how when we sincerely ask for God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, there are also many example of His grace at work in our lives. I pray that we continue to pray for “His kingdom come, and His will be done” in our lives.
This Advent is a time for me to really reflect and draw closer to Jesus, and to prepare my life from a proactive standpoint to receive and truly live my life with Him with sincerity and love.
Day 6 and Day 7 Christ the King Novena 2020 Links:
I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.
Christ the King Novena
We live in a world today ridden by not only Covid-19 fears, but this narrative is continuously being supported by governments of all nations, our main stream media, and social media platforms. As soon as we turn on our news, one is confronted by all the negative that arises from this pandemic.
In the same instance, as the anticipated second wave of the Covid-19 hits Canada, in my province, Christmas has been cancelled. Those living in the red zone will not be allowed to gather during this festive season. The exception are those in yellow zones, 10 people can gather for Christmas, and in orange zones, the limit is 6. But nearly all of Quebec is currently red.
This is the new norm in our lives, and as responsible citizens we need to follow these protocols.
The second wave of the Covid – 19 pandemic is now upon us. It continues to separate families, and separate the Church from it’s people, we cannot let this deter us from remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ, nor can we stop ourselves from asking for the Grace to open our eyes so that we see Jesus. I am grateful for zoom. It will be a zoom Christmas with my family across Ontario and Quebec. I will participate with my family and watch the live streaming of Mass.
More so than ever, I think I need to be diligent and help out in any ways I can. This starts with my family, my neighbors, and my community at large. This is a time to reach out to family members. Call one another, and if there are any bad feelings between one another, it is the time to reach out and say, “I am sorry.” “Forgive me!” “I love you!”
This is the time to drop some food off to your local parish or to the organization helping those in need. This is the time to let those around you know you care and are thinking of them.
For the power that be in our world, it is a time for prayer. Asking in a sincere heart that the Hand of God will moved our hearts towards peace and love. It is also the time to ask for the God’s Hand to be in the heart of decision makers, asking specifically they act with calm and wisdom before making rash decisions that can effect the well being of all citizens.
On a more personal level, do I see Jesus offering love and redemption in the middle of all the noise from the powers of this world? During a time when I am bombarded from all sides by the powers that be in our world, from the mainstream media, and from all our social networking platform sending out narratives of doom and gloom, am I asking Jesus to open my eyes?
Live Your Best Life
Let me resound this and ask, are we asking our beloved Savior to open our spiritual eyes to see?
Do we see Christ everywhere in our lives?
Are we asking Him to help us judge wisely of all the things of this earth?
Are we asking Him to give us the strength, courage, and faith to stand firm with God?
Last night after my prayers, I found myself scrolling through my media feeds, and the majority of the news was NEGATIVE. To discern if what I am reading is fake or real, I find myself doing research that often can take me down a rabbit hole with no end in sight. Sometimes, there are news I really don’t want to know about, because it touches on the real evil that exists in our world.
“Ignorance is bliss”, is my husband’s motto. I on the other hand have a natural curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat” idiom comes to mind. Urgh! Sometimes I have to abandon threads as they really are scary and sacrilegious.
“I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.“
The above quote came to mind last night and again a glimpse of it in my prayer this morning, which tells me it’s something for me to address, discuss and share. It’s so easy to fall prey to the powers of this world – whether it be reading something that is totally left field from the word of God and deemed so evil, it is better for me to stop. If my heart and head is not able to handle the profane, it is best I mentally stop delving deeper. Why? False teachings is Satan’s way of planting seeds that can bear the fruits of doubt and lead one astray.
During this advent, more than ever before, let me live my best life in Christ Jesus!
I pray for the grace from my Savior to open my spiritual eyes, so that I may discern what is the truth and positive from what is not good for my soul. Most of all, I ask Christ the King for the spiritual eyes to see your grace around me, so that I can judge wisely the things of this earth and stand firm in Godliness.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen
(….I’ll edit later for grammar…my Chinglish comes through sometimes….)
Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to your Kingship
Praying Christ the King Novena
I was playing Black Desert Mobile well passed midnight. For those of you who don’t know some of my less attractive habits, I am an avid gamer, and in the past 20 years, I have played and beta tested a lot of online mmo (Massively Multiplayer Online (gaming)). It started with the Atari 520 ST computer back in the days when having a computer at home was a new phenomenon. To win in a mmo, my character needs to have the best gear and weapon to be able to compete with NPC (Non-Player Character) or against other players. Getting the best gear is one of the basic premise of a game. This often means patience. It is also time consuming, as most of the game is gathering material to craft your gear, or “farming”. Farming is the boring part of a game. Farming is killing mobs of evil monsters in the hope that items will drop. Items that drop can be material for crafting, silver for buying in game goods (like potions for stamina or extra boost), and sometimes if you are lucky, a good piece of gear. I love Korean and Chinese games for their auto play features in them. I often have the game on auto play while I work (don’t ask, it’s a gamer thing. My own kids think it’s idiotic to play a game that’s on auto…they say “what’s the use of playing it?” )
This morning as I was reflecting on “Christ the King” Novena, I was thinking how in “real” life, we need to also gear up against the “evil” that permeates our society and lives. When I ask in the “Christ The King Novena” to “renew in me allegiance to your Kingship”, it also suggest I need to make changes in my life before I can put God first. A commitment to the game so to speak (gamer talk). What? Yeah, it means I need to be proactive.
The questions that come into play is “What can I do to strengthen my spiritual health?”
Taking spiritual nutrients is an important part of my daily routine with God (virtually due to Covid -19) during the morning broadcast of the Eucharist during Mass). Just as I take vitamins to keep my body strong in a world ridden with Covid -19, flus and colds. I ask for the Grace of Jesus to heal me spiritually as I partake in His Holy Sacraments.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins
It is a reaffirmation of my personal covenant with God, that His Holy Spirit resides within me and heal me.
Next, I need put on The Armor of God so that I can combat and stand against all devilish schemes:
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17
Wow and this is free, I don’t have to pay in game money, and I don’t need hope for drops from fighting mobs. God’s gifts are free. He only calls to us to ask for us to be proactive.
During this Advent, I wanted to really think about how I can strengthen and deepen my faith in Christ the King. To all you non gamers, understanding for me often means looking at my life and often there is an analogy for me to share. I stayed up later than usual to gear my game character. This morning this was still imprinted in mind as I started my Rosary. I quickly wrote it down so that this thought wouldn’t rain throughout my 20 minute Rosary time.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)
Jesus, my Savior, and King
I humbly pray before you
May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,
to give me the grace of deepening faith
to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,
and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.
I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.
As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment
I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –
with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me
to share your story and love with others.
So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.
Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.
Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.
The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.
Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.
Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.
Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.
From the Mouth of a Child
My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.
The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.
Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.
Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.
One of the keywords we hear in education – especially in the field of early childhood – is the word autonomy. Young children from as early as infants are taught to hold their own bottles, eat with their hands, and use a spoon or fork. By 18 months, toddlers start to learn to dress themselves (with minimal assistance) and prepare their mats for nap (again with minimal assistance), and by 5 years old they are completely autonomous. Yes, I can see how this can be beneficial to working parents, as it helps them get their children out the door with minimal stress and effort. What most parents don’t realize is that early autonomy in young children leads to other consequences as they get older. One of them is asking for help.
As I was tidying up my daughters bed this morning, I couldn’t help but smile at the way she made it. Her duvet carelessly thrown over her bed to hide her messy sheets and pajama underneath. Yes, I tidied it up. As a mom, I really don’t mind taking the extra time to do little “extra” things for my children. I get a sense of joy in doing it. There is something instinctive in me about taking care of their needs, just as it is painful to for me to hold back and watch as they “fall” and encourage them to get “back up”.
The mom in me loves to guide and nurture them, and I often imagine in my mind eyes the many times Jesus stepped in to take care of me. I had a replay of this image in my mind while praying the other night – of our Lord Jesus leading me back into his herd.
Early childhood education has changed over the last 10 years, shifting back and forth between nurture and nature. Coming from a Chinese cultural and Evangelical background, I grew up with a stay at home mom who took care of our needs. It was only when we were all grown up that she went into the workforce. As parents, my husband and I made a conscious decision to always have one parent at home. This meant an adjustment to our life style. My husband worked the night shift and I worked during the day. This way our children would always have a parent at home. Our children were nurtured for a longer period of time. This was something unheard of in western culture, where children as young as a few months go to daycare, and keywords like autonomy and independence become their mantra.
What sparked my long spew today?
This morning (6:30 am), I looked around for spare change because we had not renewed Aleeza’s bus pass (special thank you to my 18 year old son who keeps a jar of change in his room). As she is in school 2 or 3 days a week, along with online school on days she is at home, we forgot to renew her bus pass. Normally she is driven to school, and it is either her dad or brother who picks her up. Today was one of those days when neither of them were free to pick her up (Covid – 19 and the changing school schedule) from school.
Searching for spare change (sheesh who uses cash in a cashless society of online shopping or swiping cards) – I told her to explain to the bus driver that we (her parents) forgot to load her bus pass. To my surprise she said, “don’t worry mom, I’m gonna lie.” “Huh?” I said, “What are you gonna lie about? Just tell the driver your parents forgot to load up your card!” I also gave her spare change in case the driver refuses to let her on the bus.
To my shock, my daughter refused the money and said, “Don’t worry I am good at lying.”
“What? Are you telling me you lie to us, your parents?”
“No”, she says.
“Who do you lie to?”
“Why do you lie to your teachers?”
“Mom, do you think my teachers will be able to accept it if I am honest and tell them I don’t like whatever they are saying”
“Mom, if I tell them what I think about a story they’ve read, or if I give my honest opinion, I will have a harder time, and it will reflect on my grade.”
“Wow”, I thought to myself.
Well, needless to say I am a bit flabbergasted and then remember a similar conversation with my son about teachers and courses he had taken in the past. At the time he was concerned about having thoughts or ideas contrary to his teachers in High School. He said that voicing his opinions can lead to negative consequences.
This reminds me about my own experience as a graduate student in a Wittgenstein Seminar.
I will never forget my professor throwing my paper back at me. It’s ironic as I think about it, as we all sat around a circular table – to promote the idea we were equal thinkers. I’ll never forget the shock on my classmates face as I ducked my head in embarrassment to avoid getting hit by my paper. “I cannot grade this”, bellowed my professor.
I thought I had written a brilliant Greek play – a dialogue between Plato and Wittgenstein – a philosophical discussion about language. I was quite proud of this play, as I had done a lot of research. Also as a Fine Arts graduate student, I wanted to present the topic creatively, but as it was contrary to what was acceptable in Philosophical discourse, I go a bit fat 0 (marked “ungradable”). I accepted the 0.
What is my point?
I feel that from as young as early childhood, teaching autonomy is counter productive. I personally feel it leads to a generation of young adults who are afraid to express or think critically so that they can fit into status quo. By the time our children go through daycare, elementary, high school and higher learning (they have not only been institutionalized), their survival instincts kick in – which often means avoiding going against the flow to succeed.
I am glad I had my 6:30 discussion with my daughter. First, I reminded her not to lie, and to tell the bus driver the truth. Worse case scenario – pay for your bus fare. The other thing I was able to do was direct her towards asking Jesus for help. I also discovered she was feeling stressed about an upcoming oral presentation. She has fear of being ridiculed by the “mean girls” in her class. This gave me ample opportunity to share with her and to tell her to talk to Jesus, and to ask Him for the confidence and strength.
Asking for help is something I would like to hear from my children. It creates a bond between us, of me, the mother who cares and willing to meet their needs. Just as we let Jesus into our hearts and we can talk to him and ask of him to meet our needs.
I think by focusing on autonomy and independence in young children, we unconsciously start a chain reaction of negative consequences. They learn to be self sufficient, and don’t ask for help. They think they can do it on their own. It also alienates the “other”. To survive, they may resort to telling little white lies instead of voicing their own opinions. They feel a false sense of security. In turn I believe telling “white lie” will inevitably snowball into one “big lie”. It is better to tell the truth and deal with the consequences.
It also means for my husband and I to take the time to talk, listen and have meaningful conversations with our children. This also means we need to be calm and able to discuss with our children contents which we may find uncomfortable.
As a parent, I am thankful I can guide my children to research and examine the whole, and above all – think critically – before drawing a conclusion. As long as we can share with them our human vulnerability, I believe we can share with them how Jesus is our steadfast rock when we feel challenged and stress. Autonomy means being able to do things alone and makes the idea of being needy a negative, when in fact being or feeling needy is very much a part of being human.
It is in our neediness that we can fall upon our knees and ask for God’s help. By teaching children to be autonomous and independent is denying an important part of being human…the need to nurture.
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Song of Solomon 2:14
Thank you for reading – it is my personal viewpoint based on experience as an early childhood educator and mother.