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MaryBeth Eberhard's conversations with older and younger generations lead her to ponder how she sees herself in her loved ones of all ages.

The other day I sat in my den, chatting with my older teenagers. I will admit to getting on a bit of a soapbox and I saw them look at each other, sharing an inside moment that clearly was about me. Their eyes rolled. They slightly smiled at one another and nodded as if to say, “It’s just Mom. We love her. Let’s give her grace.”

As I ponder that moment, I am in awe of their maturity for I, at age forty-something, am just learning that skill.

I remember being in my twenties. I had my life planned out. I knew who I was going to be, and what I needed to get there. I was judgmental of other mothers, couples, and certainly any person older than me who tried to help guide me, for I knew what I wanted my life to be like.

It’s a funny thing, thinking about what you want your life to be like. For as we mature, we realize that the formation of the very things that mold and shape us are completely out of our control. Sure, we can plan our finances, career, family, etc. But God’s plan for us can (and has) wiped out our plans in one huge tidal wave, time and time again. I think He knows I need the tidal wave to listen.


sand castle destroyed by a wave


Over those years, I am ashamed at how many relationships were broken and hearts hurt by my stubbornness. I ponder this often and use it to guide me as I parent children growing into adulthood. My thirties were filled with inner comparison and loneliness. Authenticity was unknown as I struggled to find my way, lost without a lifeboat in range. It was Christ who brought me back. Always calling, ever patient, He knew how to speak to my heart, and when the time was right, He broke down my defenses, spoke truth to my heart, and recreated me into the woman I am now.

Sometimes I wonder about this recreation He has made in me; this woman who moves where the Spirit leads, shares what the Spirit reveals, speaks when the prompting is there. How free she is and what a contrast to the chains of pride and comparison.


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As we mature, we realize that the formation of the very things that mold and shape us are completely out of our control. #catholicmom

I recently shared a FaceTime call with my dad. Our conversation was typical, as I try to check in with him every day. He repeats himself often now. His questions and concerns could irritate me, but the Lord truly gifted me with such a realization the other day. He helped me see myself in my father. Not the “Oh, we have the same eyes” type of seeing myself, but a prayer for the grace to see myself as he is, 30 years from my age now. It was a gut check because I felt within myself at that moment an impatience, an annoyance and a desire to leave the conversation. Oh, sweet Jesus, I prayed, please don’t ever have this desire be upon the hearts of my children with me when I am where my father is now.


young woman on video call with grandparents


Similarly, my mother-in-law, whose heart to serve is bigger than Santa’s bag at Christmas, is always asking how she can help and offering guidance and bits of wisdom, requested and not! As we sat together the other day at my children’s soccer games, I looked for me in her. I saw a mother who was seeking to hear, desiring to help, to be involved and included. I thought of how I would want my children to respond to me when I am in my seventies and beyond. I sat down. I listened. I welcomed her in and I chose to do it her way because I knew she would feel loved.

I am on the slope toward 50 this year and I couldn’t be more excited. Bring the wisdom, Jesus! Bring the joy! Bring the freedom to see you in all I encounter: young and old. Pope Francis, in his efforts to draw families more closely together and heal intergenerational wounds, reminds us, “Life is a gift, and when it is long it is a privilege, for oneself and for others.”

Jesus, thank you for the gift of parents and grandparents. Thank you for the grace of seeing ourselves in them. May we always seek to imitate you in our service to them, and may our children grow with the grace and desire to do likewise for us.­

young woman talking with elderly woman


Copyright 2021 MaryBeth Eberhard
Image: Canva Pro