There are many daunting things about being a parent, and being a Catholic parent adds a few things to the list. One big one is that we often put pressure on ourselves to have all the answers about our faith and to be a perfect example. We must model all virtues, praise the Lord in good times and in bad, and basically be the Blessed Mother. I know many times I have come up short, thought with fear and trembling about my poor example and millstones, and wondered what on earth my kids must be learning from my weak faith.
Hopefully that sounds completely alien to you, but I've talked with enough parents to know that most of us feel some level of anxiety about passing the faith on to our kids and being good role models. While it's certainly good to want to be a role model, we sometimes have a distorted idea of what that looks like. My kids brought this up for me inadvertently the other day with a simple question, "You mean the apostles didn't even know that Jesus was going to rise from the dead?"
We had a great discussion about it. Afterwards I was thinking to myself about it, and I was reminded that pretty much no one in the Bible comes out looking great. Certainly not the apostles. The gospels report that at least 16 of Jesus closest friends and followers had no idea that he was going to rise (The women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus and the 12 apostles, if you're wondering where 16 comes from. Check Luke 24). And then I got to thinking about all the other things that the disciples goof up. And don't get me started on the folks in the Old Testament. And yet, despite these imperfections, the bad choices, the intellectual errors, and lapses of faith, these are the men and women that we read about and look up to.
Maybe being a role model in faith isn't about having every answer. Maybe it isn't even about always being faithful or having a perfect prayer life. Maybe all that pressure I put on myself doesn't belong there. Maybe someone like me, imperfections and all, can be the role model that my children need. Because my kids aren't perfect either. They need to see that you can be imperfect, love the Lord, and follow the Lord all at the same time. What we see in the example of the apostles, and most figures in Scripture, isn't perfection. It's imperfect people, still beloved and sought and redeemed by Jesus Christ. I don't know everything, and I won't always act as I should. But I can declare the Lord's love and show my kids that when we turn to God, no matter how much we've misunderstood or done wrong, his loving embrace is right there for us.