“Be really careful with the candles girls, because those veils will go up in flames before you know it!”
The second graders looked back at their religious education teacher with wide eyes. They were practicing for their First Communion Mass, and they’d all walked into the church full of joy and excitement — finally they’d be able to take Communion like the big kids!
But I’m pretty sure many of them walked out of church that night robbed of their joy, nervous with visions of flaming veils and dropped chalices dancing through their heads.
The next morning, as we buckled in the van for school, my oldest son said, “I think I’m forgetting something. I just have that feeling. Oh wait, I think I’m just nervous about First Communion.”
Poor little guy. Our parental fear tactics were taking a toll on him!
On the morning of First Communion, I had fears of my own as I worried about preparations for Mass and the celebration party afterward. Would the food be ready in time? Had we remembered everything?
My morning prayer was bogged down with mental lists of all that needed to get done.
It was no small miracle when God’s voice broke through my noisy thoughts whispering to my heart, “Act out of love and trust today, not fear and anxiety.”
It’s no surprise that God’s parenting tactics were focused on love instead of fear. However, as it turned out, He picked a doozy of a day to challenge me to such a change in mindset.
Mass went off without a hitch. Even though I almost forget to send Anthony up when it was his turn to lead prayer (and we went the wrong direction after Communion) still, there were no flaming veils.
Afterward, we headed to the Rec Room to have my son’s celebration party. Things were going well. The room was perfect, and the food was delicious.
But then a family emergency came up–for once not related to Cooper–and it resulted in an unexpected trip to the hospital.
After that, the party wrapped up fairly quickly. We took the kids to the park hoping to entertain them while we waited for word from the hospital. But the afternoon got long, and the kids (and adults) got bored.
Typically, that’s when everyone would have headed home, but no one wanted to leave until we heard everything was okay at the hospital. So one by one we all sat down on the cold, hard cement park benches.
As we gathered, I glanced sideways, looking from one bored face to the next. I knew logically that I should invite everyone back to our house.
But we hadn’t been expecting company, and our house was even messier than normal with all the rushed party preparations.
Was I really going to have to invite fifteen people into our mess? Really?!
Surely there was another option.
That’s when the words from my prayer time came back to me: “Act out of love and trust, not fear and anxiety.”
The loving thing would be to invite everyone back to our house, trusting them to overlook the mess — not force them to sit bored at the park.
So I invited them, and everyone piled into our home. The kids ate chips and played cards. They had epic Wii battles and secret ninja missions in the back yard.
And in the end, I only overheard one of the kids walk into our toy room and declare, “Wow, this place is a mess!”
Not so bad, right?
The next day, I cleaned in a frenzy — the way I always do when someone accidentally sees our house in a state too messy, even by my standards.
As I stepped over a shriveled apple peel, I couldn’t help but wonder what our family thought after seeing our house this way. But in the end, I’m guessing they were just grateful not to be stranded at the park all afternoon.
Yes, they saw my mess. But they also felt the love of being welcome in our home.
Question for You:
Do you ever find yourself struggling to intentionally choose love rather than fear in your relationships?