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“Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Here is a scripture that tugs at a parent’s heart! For many, this well-known Bible passage immediately conjures up a mixed bag of responses. Hope, motivation, doubt, fear…these are just some feelings that can instantly crop up when we come upon this simple verse.
The intention of this verse, of course, is to inspire us to teach our children the ways of God. It attempts to motivate us to push on through the challenges confronted each day in rearing our children and recognizes that we can be overwhelmed and discouraged. In its simplicity, this profound proverb demonstrates its understanding of the human weakness and endeavors to provide an assurance of hope and success.
The contemporary phrase “Don’t give up” could be considered a more recent equivalent to this scripture verse. However, it is astounding how different the implied messages are between the two. It would be far more fruitful to reflect on the Word of God that comes to us through the proverb form than to be tempted to rely on the use of the current catch-phrase.
As a parent, my greatest prayer is that my children understand their identity as children of God and grasp the goal of their existence here on earth. It is imperative to me that they understand the stark difference between the culture of our world and that of the Kingdom of God that they are expected to spread. They need to recognize that to rely on the “wisdom of the world” is to usher in unnecessary pain and suffering, fickle happiness and periods of hopelessness.
Are these what I wish for my children? Of course not! It is this reality that Proverbs alludes to. Parents in Old Testament times were well-aware of the clashing dissonance of the two “worlds of wisdom.” They, as we do now, longed for their children to experience the freedom, peace and joy that can only be found through the Wisdom of God, but struggled to make this clear amidst the chaos and infiltration of the “wisdom of the world” in their daily lives.
Today, that goal remains the same. We want the best for our children, to protect them from a world that wants to trick them into submission and steal their souls for its own survival.
Satan’s plan is a good one. But, God’s is better.
Many families struggle daily in raising their children, hoping and praying for the best. Most of us know families who have had a child embrace the wisdom of the world despite every effort made to prepare them to choose differently. Perhaps ours is one of these families. If this is the case, we can do several things. First, we can reflect honestly to see if our preparation and parenting decisions truly were optimum. In a world that convinces us to fall back on the idea that “well, we did our best,” sometimes we need to realize that it is possible that some changes could have been made that would have given an even greater chance at a better outcome for our child. We are NOT PERFECT. Only the God Whom we serve is. This practice is especially beneficial if we other children waiting in the wings. It is certainly no secret in my family that my younger children are getting the benefit of this reflection now. My oldest ones are very aware that many of my parenting decisions are quite different in recent years compared to those made when they were younger!
Once honestly considered, it is important to let go of any guilt that may crop up as a result. Guilt as a result of honest reflection can be a barrier to healing or a chance to motivate us to make changes for the better. If guilt is a real issue, I highly recommend and encourage you to seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the guidance of a Spiritual Director.
Another action we must take is one of acceptance and offering to the Lord. The child who is making choices in conjunction with the wisdom of the world is our child, but he/she is also the Lord’s beloved, and He will never abandon His beloved. The decisions being made are according to his/her own will, and we MUST let perceived responsibility on our part be offered completely up to the Creator. Sow the seeds, but let God, the Divine Sower, mature them.
And, of course, pray. There is no substitute for prayer. Pray to your child’s patron saint, to his/her guardian angel, and to the ever-present love of our Blessed Mother.
Proverb 22:6 is telling us the truth. I could feasibly go on to write a book about the many “prodigal son” stories I have personally experienced throughout my life. They encourage me daily to never give up the cause to follow the Lord’s command and do my best to bring up my children in the ways of God. Will I make mistakes? You can depend on it. But, with God’s help and the intercession of Our Lady and the saints, I will heed His Word and help my children - these incredible gifts that He gave me - to seek His wisdom first and continue to spread the Kingdom of God here on earth.
In the next week, let’s take some time to reflect on our own take-away from Proverb 22:6. What is my initial reaction to reading it? Why might I be reacting this way? What might God be trying to tell me through it?
Through this time of “sitting with God,” may we find revelation and encouragement, remembering that we once, too, were children, and Our God harbored our hearts and cultivated us in His ways so that we, also, might never swerve from them.
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Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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