A Parent’s Struggle, Yet Joy!
Our youngest daughter got married this summer to a wonderful young man that my husband and I admire and have grown to love as our own. As a parent, it is an incredible joy to know your child has found someone who loves, understands and accepts her unconditionally and chooses to stand beside her as a life partner.
She opted for a very small wedding with just our immediate family and his parents outside the steps of city hall. As her wedding neared, I was filled with a wisp of melancholy, a feeling I couldn’t understand, as I was delighted about her upcoming marriage. As I prayed about this, I knew it was because the most important person to me would not be there — Jesus.
When a couple are married civilly by the justice of the peace, they enter a contract that is between two people and is strictly a personal affair. When a couple get married in the Church, they receive a sacrament and enter into a covenant with Jesus in which He promises to be with them all the days of married life, never leaving their side no matter what.
The covenant that my husband and I share has seen us through the difficult days of our marriage, the challenges of raising children and the differences between us, always with an understanding that God is on our side. This is what I want for my daughter and her husband — to be able to lean on the grace of the sacrament of marriage, especially on those challenging days when loving one another can be a struggle or even seem impossible.
I look at my husband and know that the way he loves, touches, speaks to and respects me is the way that God loves me. I want my daughter to know the same in her marriage — to experience the limitless possibilities a covenant between her and her husband and God can offer her in the unknown days of married life that await her. But that was not the choice she and her husband made, and while I may not agree with it, it is a choice that I chose to honor.
A week before the wedding, as I sat in prayer sharing these feelings about the wedding to Jesus, He placed on my heart the words, “I will be there.” And, I believe He was. Whether my daughter and her husband knew it, accepted it or believed it, I know Jesus was there. Jesus is in me, and the love that He and I share goes wherever I go. My joy in knowing my daughter found someone so perfectly suited for her, I believe, is Jesus’ joy, too.
Jesus was there in the love my husband and I shared in creating our little girl and again as we held hands tightly watching this beautiful young woman make a commitment to the love of her life. He is there in the gift of family life we share and our delight in expanding that family to embrace our new son.
St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches that God is in all things. Since I believe this with all my heart, then I must trust that He is with my daughter and her husband in the love they share. Maybe not in the same sacramental way He is with my husband and I as part of our covenant, but He is still there watching over them. Jesus knows the whole of my daughter and her husband. I don’t. I must surrender this one to Jesus and trust in His love for them, respect their journey and let them live their lives as they choose.
My struggle is not unique. It is one shared by so many other parents whose adult children have chosen to move away from their faith. Years ago, I found this prayer written by an unknown author. It has often brought me comfort and peace. It found its way back into my life a few days before the wedding — just one more gift from the Holy Spirit in my life.
It is called “Letting Go"
“... I behold the Christ in you. I place you lovingly in the care of the Father. I release you from my anxiety and concern … I am willing to free you to follow the dictates of your indwelling Lord. I am willing to free you to live your life according to your best light and understanding … I no longer try to force my ideas on you, my ways on you … I see you as God sees you — a spiritual being, created in His image and endowed with qualities and abilities that make you needed and important — not only to me but to God and His larger plan … I no longer believe that you do not have the understanding you need in order to meet life. I bless you. I have faith in you, I behold Jesus in you.”
By Mary-Jo McLaughlin