The most rewarding and difficult task Annette and I have undertaken is raising children.
Without each other’s support, and the unique grace God gives to man and woman who yield to each other in the heartache of parenting, we might not have made it. And had we not, our kids would have lost the witness that in spite of their extremes, love prevails.
One cannot grasp this until (s)he lives it. I recall family photos when my siblings and I were teen-agers. My brother and I put my parents through hell. Just as heaven came to earth in Jesus, hell visits the families of renegade teens. We kids sneered into the photograph, while my mother smiled wanly, her eyes dark and wearied by the hard season of parenting Dad and she were enduring together.
Still, I did not grasp the cost of parenting until Annette and I faced one hard fact–our kids were very capable of blowing off ‘family values’ for a ride in the fast lane. We recall waited in agony, and in vain, for the teen son in the early morning hours: drug-induced chaos, the smashed up car, weird friends (raised by wolves?), the sincere kid who became completely implausible, suspicions that went nowhere, the discernment that came true, the truth that kids must work out their lives outside your control while still under your watchful, tearful eye.
Perhaps here more than in any other task, Annette and I found one another. Instead of blaming or shaming the other for the misery at hand, we have found solace in our love. We somehow strengthened each other in our mutual helplessness. We have a rock; our commitment forged in difference and in fire. When the kids rock our world, we share a united front that serves as a kind of fortress against the unpredictability of raising children.
Kids need that steadfastness. As they travel the breadth of extremities, they need to know their parents don’t, and that two await them in love and with boundaries that help them face the limits they are imposing on themselves.
Maybe that is what the Catholics mean when they speak of marriage as a sacrament. A sacrament is a means of grace. Through marriage, God gives grace to the one man and one woman who dare to bring kids into this chaotic world.
That world gives no guarantee that earnest parents will produce seamless kids. In the uncertainty and pain of parenting, the Creator consoles and empowers His ‘co-creators’. We give grace to one another. God honors that offering of grace and enhances it as we seek to love well the fruit of our lovemaking.
Honor marriage for the good of all, especially kids. Vote YES on Proposition 8.
“Father, we thank you for the grace You give parents as they stand together in the hard task of raising children. Unify and empower them; let kids be the first fruit of that grace.”