This is the third of a five-part entry written by “Anonymous”.
Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Checking Boxes

Let’s admit it, we have ALL looked askance at our neighbor and said in our heart of hearts, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that person.’ Sound familiar? It should. I believe there was a Pharisee who said about the exact same thing while praying in the temple in the gospel of Luke. Going a step further, I bet we have all scanned the heads of our fellow parishioners in the pews and taken mental note of the hair not quite right, the untucked shirt, the skirt too short, the sleeves a bit too revealing or, Lord forbid, the piercings and the blue hair. (No, she never came to church with blue hair.) I know you have done it. Because I have too. I recall as a young mother, with that ‘the buck stops here with me’ attitude, certain that my child would never do such and such. My husband and I would never have allowed our child to do thus and so. Because we were going to do things Right. Without realizing it, I had fallen into a checklist mentality for living out my faith. And this is a mentality that is a trap for faithful Catholics, indeed, for anyone striving to live a holy Christian life after the pattern of Our Lord.

What do I mean by a “checklist mentality?” By this, I mean a mentality that searches for the perfect recipe for living out our vocation, in my case, of raising children, of living out a vocation to the family life in the role of wife and mother. It’s a mode of living that is concerned with checking the boxes that will guarantee a successful outcome. The outcome being, children who will never leave the faith (indeed, not even deviate one iota or question or step out of line), become saints even, and where we as parents can stand back and admire what?…OUR work. Self-satisfied and content.

But I am telling you, this does not always work. I’m sharing with you the pain of my mother’s heart so you realize that this is not always the case. I think young families, understandably so, look for the role model family to pattern their lives after. ‘If only my kids could be like their kids. Their kids are so respectful, so studious, so obedient, so reverent…’ etc. etc. And so, they plant their flag there. Only to find that, perhaps, sin visits them as well as the next person. Sin, the lot we are ALL born into, that we cannot escape, that cuts across ALL families. I’m here with my mother’s aching heart to warn you, be careful how you judge…lest you too be judged. (ref: Matt. 7:1)

“What did I do wrong?”

When a child goes astray the tendency as a parent is to ask ‘What did I do wrong? Where did I fail? As a mother, as a father?’ As valid as this self-reflection is for a conscientious parent, it also belies a bit of pride, does it not? As if my child’s salvation and walk with Christ is entirely dependent upon me! We parents all appreciate hearing the phrase ‘You should be so proud. Your son/daughter is such a credit to you.’ Only in the past several years have I come to distrust that phrase. As much as I’d like to relish that compliment, my first thought now is ‘You want to see my other child? You may not be saying we’re so perfect.’ So, if I can’t take the blame for one child who goes astray, can I really take the credit for those who don’t? No, not really. In the case of our daughter saying she is now “trans” the anguish we have experienced as parents, while grappling with confusion, anger and loss, is compounded when the greater Christian community asks the same question. What did they do wrong? To which parent can we trace the sin? ‘Well, it’s all because the mother did….’ fill in the blank. ‘If the father had only been more…’ you finish the phrase. I know people think this, because at some point in time in my life, I have thought it about others myself.

I carry this wound to my mother’s heart. We ask God to let us participate in his suffering…but as long as it’s an acceptable suffering. What I mean by that is, as long as it is a suffering that appears noble, or that elevates the piety of the one doing the suffering. We may not realize it but often, when we desire to suffer “for Christ”, we are thinking of suffering that entails loss, or pain, illness, persecution for the faith. But this suffering of mine is, well, embarrassing. This causes side-glances and misunderstanding. This suffering is confusing to parents and siblings alike. Unfortunately, I think society has become complacent about certain sins. We “accept” certain youthful transgressions as we like to call them. “She’s living with her boyfriend…I know, it’s not ideal, but…” Or, “He’s just going through his rebellious drinking-in-college phase. I know, it’s not what we want for him, but…” But isn’t all sin a turning away from God? Isn’t it always a refusal to become who God intends for us to become?

I don’t intend to go into the nuances of what leads a person to choose a trans lifestyle. I have my theories about that that come from observation and experience. But they are certainly not the world’s view. My view is that the trans lifestyle is one that is in complete opposition to the Christian way of life. Which makes it, the trans lifestyle, so tyrannical. It is a whole package. The chooser can’t possibly keep the same relationships they had with family members and friends of their “past.” That earlier person simply doesn’t exist, so they say. The whole idea of being in a family as a certain member, having been given a title, a role, a relationship, is rejected. The world would say we are being unkind. Narrow minded. Un-charitable. And this type of suffering of the parents and family members is not one most people want to share in. This is the suffering from wounds to a parent’s heart when an adult child leaves the faith, indeed runs to the far country, and is all but dead to the family who’s left to grieve.

Stay tuned for Part 4

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