|Photo Credit: jojo22 from morgueFile.com|
Certain smells bring back memories. For instance, my son grabbed an old cologne out of my bathroom cabinet the other day and has been wearing it on occasion. When I smell it on him, I have to giggle a little bit. Why? Because when the kids were younger, we taped a label on that same cologne and called it “Monster Spray.” We sprayed it in their rooms to keep the monsters away when they were scared. My husband and I would constantly assure them that monsters didn’t live under their beds, but it helped them sleep more peacefully when we’d spray it. So, for the incredible love of beautiful sleep…by golly, we did! Speaking of monsters under beds…
They don’t exist. Besides monsters, what exactly is “they,” you ask? Unicorns? Abominable snowmen? Pots of gold at the end of rainbows? Eyes actually bigger than anyone’s stomach? Mermaids? The list could go on and on and many may argue that some of these actually do exist, BUT, there is something that truly does NOT exist. Take a wild guess what it is.
The Seven Dwarfs? Good try. Guess again. Okay, I’ll tell you. The answer is…perfect families.
Many of us have witnessed inspirational families and their uplifting stories along our journey of life. We are touched so deeply by the ways in which they overcome some of life’s greatest challenges. I thank God for the chance to witness this here on earth. Sometimes we might even see families that appear to have it all together, all the time. Perhaps, we’ve even wished to be exactly like them. Have we ever looked at a family and been envious or jealous? Maybe or maybe not. The bottom line is that the families we admire and adore are not perfect. We might think they are perfect, but if you ask these families if they are…they’ll say, “No.”
However, what I love the most is the fact that even imperfect families can still encourage us, challenge us, and motivate us. I think that gives us all a remarkable message of hope. Imperfect people can inspire. Imperfect families can too.
Pope Francis has some great words about families that I’d like to share:
“Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn. Love is something we live. Love grows as it is ‘forged’ by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows. Love can flourish in men and women who try not to make conflict the last word, but rather a new opportunity - an opportunity to seek help, an opportunity to question how we need to improve, and an opportunity to discover the God who is with us and never abandons us. This is a great legacy that we can give to our children - a very good lesson - we make mistakes, yes; we have problems, yes. But, we know that that is not really what counts. We know that mistakes, problems, and conflicts are an opportunity to draw closer to others and to draw closer to God.”
Pope Francis also spoke some amazing words recently about forgiveness in the family. Our priest, Father Bentil, shared these incredibly inspirational words with us at Mass over the weekend:
"There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents. We are not perfect. We do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children. We have complaints about each other. We have deceived and disappointed each other. Therefore, there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness, the family becomes a theater of conflict and a bastion of grievances. Without forgiveness, the family becomes sick. Forgiveness sterilizes the soul, cleansing the mind, and freeing the heart. He who doesn't forgive has no peace of mind nor communion with God.”
“Pain is a poison that intoxicates and kills. To keep a wound in one's heart is a self-devouring and self-destructive gesture. It is autophagy (biting of one’s own flesh). He who doesn't forgive becomes physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill. That's why the family must be a place of life, not of death; a territory of healing, not disease; a stage of forgiveness, not guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where there was sorrow-produced pain; and healing, where pain caused disease.”
Forgiving is not easy, most will admit. But, I believe that those same people will say that it’s worth it.
The existence of leprechauns, elves, Big Foot, and the Loch Ness Monster may be debatable. However, I’m thrilled to say that the existence of perfect families is not up for debate. Why am I thrilled by that? Well, because that means that we all have a chance… a chance at finding gold. What?
Let me explain. Even though I’ve never found the gold at the end of any rainbow (and I will not admit the number of times I’ve tried looking for it), I think there is gold found in something else. There is gold in our imperfections. Why? Because we have a golden opportunity to love, to inspire, to motivate, and to encourage since we are most relatable when we’re far from perfect. People can’t relate to perfection. Perfect is not possible and that’s okay. We can inspire others best and most profoundly when we’re real…imperfections and all.
So, now that we know that perfect families do not exist, I encourage you to get out there and make a difference! Any individual can be inspirational, so why not you? Any family can be inspirational, so why not yours?