Turn problems into prayers, teach forgiveness Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Nov. 02, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

I'd like to say that every day in our house is peaceful, that no one ever fights, that we ride out problems prayerfully and lovingly.

But it would be a lie.

Yesterday was particularly challenging, with tired children shirking household duties and worn-out parents losing patience. Throughout the rainy day we had to help solve quarrels, enforce obedience, redirect whining. In the face of all our little problems, we got stuck in the muck of anger and impatience.

Yet on that same day, all six of us shared a huge family hug, later went to Confession, laughed, and enjoyed a floor picnic while watching a family movie in the evening.

On the roller coaster journey of family life, we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture, of the fact that we are God's children, and that we are so much more than the problems we have or solve.

Benefitting others

We are not alone, and most families face the same problems we do. But we often forget to offer those problems as prayerful sacrifices that could benefit others.

When I hear my children squabbling while I'm preparing dinner on the stove, I can take a deep breath, recognize my building impatience, and offer that moment as a sacrifice, with a simple prayer.

Sometimes we need to take a step back and see how we can love more, sacrifice more, reach down into ourselves and harness the virtues God planted in our hearts so we can rise above the mire of problems -- in our own families and in the world. And we need to not only rise above those problems, but also actually embrace them as ways we can sanctify our lives and grow closer to God.

When we attend Mass and witness the miracle of the Eucharist, in which God Himself comes to us in the humble form of bread and wine, we participate in something so much greater than ourselves.

This is how God feeds His flock. This is how God comes to the multitudes on Earth, so that we might go out and be His hands and voice to our families, friends, and neighbors.

If we mindfully and prayerfully participate in the Mass each time we go, and remember that this is how God recharges us and sends us out to do His work, then we begin to see how we fit into the bigger picture of the Church, God's ship here on Earth.

We can aim to be mindful of the bigger picture not only in our immediate families, but in our extended families as well. As we come together at holiday time, perhaps there is a lasting grudge to forgive or an old wound to let go, for the benefit of a familial relationship.

It is important for our children to see us struggle, to hear us say, "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you." We as parents do not have all the answers, nor should we pretend to. So when we make mistakes, when we blow something out of proportion, when we lose our peace and forget ourselves, let us make sure to apologize to our children, to let them know that we indeed are far from perfect.

Own choices

God has for eons allowed us the freedom to make our own choices -- because He loves us. We do the same with our own children and they will do the same with theirs. But part of that freedom is the recognition that we sometimes make mistakes and must say we're sorry. It is, after all, only human, the way God made us.

We say we're sorry to God in Confession. At the same time, we must say we're sorry to our children when we fumble. That's how they will gain compassion and understanding and open their own hearts to humility and forgiveness themselves.

If they can see us humble ourselves to ask forgiveness from God and from each other, how much easier it will be for them to do the same.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.