by Sr. Orianne Dyck
When you were a kid, did you ever imagine you were someone else’s child? Maybe you imagined your parents were the king and queen of some foreign land. Maybe you imagined you were the long-lost daughter of an infamous outlaw who needed to be saved from prison. Maybe you imagined you were switched at birth and were actually the child of enemy spies!
Or maybe you didn’t, and I just had a really overactive imagination.
Be that as it may, I did sometimes wonder if I would have been different had I been born at another time, in another place, or to different parents. But then, in grade 9, I discovered something. A teacher told me that the feast of the Immaculate Conception wasn’t celebrating Jesus being conceived without sin, but Mary being conceived without sin. This sent me on a years-long search to get the bottom of how a human who wasn’t also God could be free from original sin. With the help of friends and Youtube videos, I eventually found why the Church was able to assert the Immaculate Conception as dogma. But as I considered what it meant for Mary to be chosen for Christ before she was even born, I came to realize something else ...
You Have Found Favor with God
God had chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus, and Jesus to be the son of Mary, from the very beginning of time. Of course, Mary could have said no. But she didn’t. She knew God had chosen this child for her from all eternity. And she knew, whatever the reason, he has chosen her for him too. I realized that, in the same way, God had chosen a very particular woman to be my mother, and that he had intentionally chosen me to be her daughter. He chose you to be the mother of your child. And he chose your child to be your baby.
So often, when we dream about having kids, we have this idea of a blank-slate baby we can teach and shape into whoever we want them to be. But children are not given to us as blank slates. They come with personalities at the ready. And sure, how we raise them will help them to develop this personality in a healthy and life-giving way. But we can’t expect never to be surprised by the sudden appearance of either faults or virtues we never taught them, mannerisms we never modeled, or interests we never fostered.
Sometimes we are humbled by the goodness in our children. Sometimes we are blown away by their wisdom. Sometimes we are sustained by their faith. God reaches out to us through them. Sometimes we are hurt by the sins of our children. Sometimes we are frustrated by their faults. Sometimes we are challenged by their struggles. God reaches out to them through us.
As you begin this Advent journey with Mary, you may be sailing smooth with your kids, or you may be struggling to relate to them. No matter where you are, remember – God chose you for your child, and God chose your child for you. Take a moment today to look at your child and know that God chose you for each other. Tell your child this! And together, say a prayer asking God to help you to understand, protect, and love each other, just like Mary and Jesus did. Begin your Advent together this year, knowing you are chosen, and knowing you are loved.
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life,
form yourself in me,
that I may see with your eyes,
smile with your smile,
and love with your heart.
Mary, our Mother, Teacher, and Queen,
pray for us.