“Ye are the Light of the World” – Simon Dewey

When Jesus said “fear not” he meant it. In my work I help people whose relationships have not only fallen apart at the seams but exploded into a million pieces, taking bloody chunks of their hearts with it. It’s happened to me and you, too, I’m sure—more than it should have.

But we don’t have to be overcome by fear when relationships implode, nor do we need to deny the pain of sufferings and injustice to also understand the good that can come to us and others through and despite the evils. We just have to have the eyes to see.  It’s God’s promise to us! (Romans 8:28)

Today many people are afraid of relationships. They fear leaving their comfort or safety zones and experiencing pain and suffering. But, like the somewhat-tired-but-still-truthful slogan says, No pain, No gain.

I recall some twenty years ago when the devious little neighbor kid stole my stepson’s hard-earned allowance. We couldn’t prove it and poor Mikey was devastated. A natural optimist with a sweet spirit, he just couldn’t believe how his best friend could violate him.  So I spent time walking with and talking about the whole thing over the next few days with Mikey, teaching him to put his RELIGION into this RELATIONSHIP.

In our little conversations and tender reassurances, I helped him to:

know that he was never alone and could come to his parents for help
acknowledge and process his emotions
not let anger turn into bitterness
refuse resentment and forgive
consider resolving the problem if possible
begin to develop reconciliation skills
discern who is good company and who is not
learn to let go of relationships if necessary
grieve the loss of friendships
have compassion for others who suffer unjustly
begin to face the reality that life is not always fair
accept the difficulties of life as something normal
find joy in his life despite injustice
more deeply appreciate faithful friends
see the bigger picture and avoid self-pity
come to us for comfort, wisdom, guidance

These are important relationship and life skills that many adults never develop. Look at all the good that, with God’s grace, we were able to bring out of the offense!

It is from facing adversity that virtue can become strong; from accepting reality that we grow in wisdom and maturity. We should stop over-protecting our children (and others) from some of the hard truths and difficulties of life and encourage them to go higher. Going out on that limb is where the juiciest fruit is!

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And, as Catholics, we can share the spiritually rich fullness of our Catholic faith (at age appropriate levels) where we also learn that:

God is the Perfect Parent who will also always help us in life.
In the Church he has left us specific guidance to help with all our troubles.
He gives everyone the powerful gift of free will and with that we may get hurt.
He promises to be with us and share in our sorrows.
He promises to bring good out of bad things if we will go to him.
Jesus suffered unjustly, too, and from those evils brought forth power that saved the world.
I can unite my sorrow with his where it will also share in the world’s salvation.
This life, as beautiful as it is, can never satisfy our deepest desires. Only heaven can.
It is good to do unto others that which we would have done to us.
We should always pray for those who hurt us because—whether they agree with is or not—they are looking for heaven, too.

Was the allowance theft fair? No. Did my child deserve it? No.

Was there good that we could bring out of it?  Always.

Our RELIGION is what we believe about the God who loves us, and who we love in return, and the way we live that RELATIONSHIP out.  It has great power to heal and save.

So, no matter their age, teach your children not to fear the pain of relationships; teach them instead to put their religion into them.