No Grenades for Pete!

We had a wonderful dinner with a priest recently.  It was a beautiful night and we were sitting around the table on the deck.  Peter (5) perks up and says, “Someone should throw a grenade in the middle of the table and we would all die!”  We all wondered why he thought this would be a good idea. He responded, “Then we would all be in heaven!” Yes, our priest friend said, but what about the person who threw the grenade, he wouldn’t be in heaven.  Peter replied, “He would if he threw it by accident!” He was feeling good about himself in this moment and we all had a little chuckle. Then the priest says, “But that person didn’t acquire that grenade by accident.”  Pete was beaten. He had not taken the logic full circle.


This is a child’s mind.  They are learning and growing at an amazing rate.  Sometimes they even look like adults, but then when you have a discussion with them, you are reminded - they are still figuring it out.  The logic used to arrive at decisions is often juvenile and not well thought out.


Not only do they not have the life experience and maturity to fully think through difficult (sometimes simple!) decisions, they also lack the self discipline to live what the already KNOW to be true.  Just last night when we asked an older child why they were being disobedient they replied, “Because you are asking me to do things I don’t want to do!” Well the answer was honest at least.


This is simply part of growing up.  I look back at myself as a teenager and even into my early twenties and I just had so much learning to do still.  I thought I had it all figured out. I was dead wrong. I believe this experience to be the norm, not the exception.  I am still learning every day.


One of our primary roles as parents is to guide our children through this process.  Teach them, correct them when they are wrong, discipline them when necessary to know there are consequences for their action.  This is responsible parenting. Parents leading their children to holiness.


And yet, in our world come undone, I see more and more the exact opposite.  Parents are failing their children. Parents are allowing their children to make serious decisions in their inexperience, parents lack the will to correct their children when wrong, parents lack the fortitude to discipline in difficult circumstances.  


No where do we see this played out more clearly than in the gender and sexual identity arena.  There are words for how people identify that I didn't know existed. Who they are and who they are attracted to.  It’s an anything goes mentality. There is a spectrum and kids are supposed to see where they fall. Something that should be so basic as are you girl and boy is now a question a child is expected to figure out.  Parents, themselves often bewildered, fail to lead their children to the truth of who they are and why they were made. Even more tragic, they aid them in doing things to themselve they will come to regret and cannot possibly bring them happiness.   


Even as adults we must have the humility to see areas where we need growth and maturity.   We must have the discipline to live what we KNOW to be true. We may think we have thought all the way through an issue only to realize we are one step (or more) short like Pete.  Our logic is faulty. Why is there a decline in church attendance, a rise of the “nones,” a precipitous decline in moral truths? Pride in people thinking they know better and lack of personal discipline.  So many feel they have it all figured out - but they have left out the main part of any equation in our life - God. Our faith life, Our Savior, is at the heart of every decision, every moment of our life. Without that, we are like 5 year olds thinking if we throw a grenade “accidentally”  into the middle of the table somehow we all get to heaven.


Well Pete was wrong, and so often we are as well.   Where are we to look for wisdom? Christ, in His great love for us, gave us Mother Church to be that beacon.   Where do we look for strength when our self discipline is weak? The Sacraments can fortify us. The Bible, the very Word of God, is there to instruct us.   We are all still learning, we need the humility to acknowledge that and the will to constantly seek to follow God.


Peter’s Birthday was the 23rd.  He asked for grenades. He didn’t get them.  


May we all strive to be holy parents for our children.  May we remain humble and obedient in our own faith life as well.  


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  JMJ