Andrea Bear discusses the challenges of helping our teenagers realize they are saints in the making.
When I think about saints, I often imagine individuals who are untouchable fabrics in society. So holy and so pure that I could never achieve this level. But as I reflect on some of the stories of saints, I also understand that Jesus called many people who were sinners, who had hardened lives and were transformed into holiness.
As a parent, my calling is also to transform lives. My most important job is to help my kids in their journey toward heaven. But being called to holiness is not an easy feat. I have often wondered, what is harder: working to become a saint or being a mom to a teenager in the 21st century? Today’s world is filled with so many temptations for our kids to stray from their faith that as parents we are fighting some hard-core spiritual battles. And while my kids know the core teachings of right and wrong, that doesn’t always mesh with the aspects of being a popular teenager.
Society tells our kids, “Be cool; be yourself; sex before marriage with someone and anyone is fine if you consent. Commandments are more like suggestions and you only need to follow if it feels right. Your body is your choice. If you don’t agree with others who live immoral lifestyles, then you’re a hateful person.” And it comes from every angle.
Our kids are in a tug-of-war.
Recently my daughter pointed out that I wasn’t allowing her to be a “normal” teenager when I mentioned a song she was listening to strongly went against our Catholic teachings. My husband said it best. “I’m trying to raise you to NOT be a normal teenager.” It’s definitely hard to fight back against all the pop culture that portrays things as enticing and appears good, but in reality doesn’t bring us closer to God. God calls us to have purpose and to have a mission of holiness.
As a mom, I’m trying to teach my teens that what is POPULAR is not always RIGHT and what is RIGHT is not always POPULAR.
I recently read Lisa Hendey’s picture book I’m a Saint in the Making, and interestingly enough Lisa reminds us that even saints had hard decisions to make. Their lives were full of spiritual warfare; they had to make decisions on what is right -- NOT what is popular.
Lisa also points out that as these saints traveled along their journeys to holiness, their paths were not all the same, and many came across hard battles. As St Theresa of Calcutta points out, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
So when I look at my daughter and have to explain to her why she can’t listen to unholy popular music, I also remind her that she is more than just a popular song. She is more than a trend. She is God’s child, and our journey is about getting home. Lisa’s book also shows how the saints can be examples in our family’s life and how we can learn to grow close to God, even in the everyday.
As St. Augustus Tolton once said, “As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better.”
Copyright 2020 Andrea Bear
Image from I'm a Saint in the Making by Lisa Hendey, illustrated by Katie Broussard, copyright 2020 and used with the kind permission of the publisher, Paraclete Press. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Andrea Bear is a wife, mom, and teacher in Northern California. She runs a blog called Life in the Grace Lane and also contributes to Catholic Stand and Today's Catholic Teacher magazine. When she's not writing or taking her kids to volleyball practice you can find her sipping coffee from the neighborhood coffee establishments or tasting wine from the local vineyards.