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Stephanie Stovall sees the benefits of sharing the idea of the power of suffering with her children.

It wasn’t until my late 20s, early 30s that I understood the Catholic teaching of suffering.

“Offer it up” had more of a “let go and let God” tone when I’d hear it. But even when this immense gift of a teaching reached my mind and heart, I’d still have difficulty truly believing that even my “silly” sufferings had any power to them. 

Having to give up a low-key family night for a sports practice, an overflowing sink, my laundry mountain, not finding what I need at a store and going on a hunt for the item all over town ... all of these situations have the power, when offered up to God, to change the world. 

Now, sharing this teaching on suffering to adults can be a tricky thing … how in the heck do you explain to a child that their pain, can be a pretty beautiful thing?

Well, I don’t know. I had the potential for being a parenting expert with five kids running around -- but I’m still just wingin’ this mom thing and constant survival mode.

But I do have a story to share. 

One day after school we were all sharing a snack and stories about our day around the kitchen table. The older two boys began to tell a story about a boy at Mass the Sunday before that they noticed kept coming in and out of the sanctuary. They noticed how inattentive he was during the Mass and this made them very upset. The exclamation point was added when they saw the same boy walking down the hallway at school that day. “Mom, he goes to our school!” 

The Holy Spirit came to the rescue and turned this multifaceted moment into a beautiful lesson on how we all need to work on being more attentive during Mass … and the bonus Holy Spirit twist … how we can “offer up” our sufferings, big and small, for the conversion of souls.

I explained to them how all of our pain in life can be given to God as a sacrifice and He takes it from us and does incredible things -- just like He did with Jesus on the Cross.

We even got into the huge topic of reparation and how we can give to God little sacrifices as a prayer to convert a soul or a prayer to help someone during a hard time. 

I’ll tell you what: the next day, my second grader -- completely on his own -- decided to forego snack at school that day “for people to love God more.”

When I felt the nudge to bring up the big reparation talk, I had stopped myself at first. But thank you God for the Spirit working in us, because that kitchen table talk has brought about so much fruit in my soul -- as well as the little souls under our roof. 

Dear God, I am no parenting expert, I’m barely surviving, but please send down all of the buckets of parenting graces you have so that I can lead my children and others to Heaven. Amen.

How do you explain to a child that their pain can be a pretty beautiful thing? #catholicmom



Copyright 2020 Stephanie Stovall
Image: Pixabay (2013)