“… and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children…”
I write this reflection on my daughter’s birthday – March 15. This is the day she turns 21. For those of you parents who have similarly seen your kids reach that magical milestone age of 21, you know how it feels. A time of mixed emotions – of gratitude (and relief) that they have ‘come of age’. Yet, not fully able to let go because they are still ‘neither here nor there’ – no longer children but yet not fully independent. And the realization that they will never ever ‘really grow up’ and be ‘liberated’ from our parental instinct. Like how Peter Pan who although could fly, never seemed to be able to ever grow up (at least he did not grow old). Moreover, I have only one child ….
By the grace and providence of God, in the midst of the pandemic and the difficulties thereof, we were able to still hold a small gathering amongst our closest family members and friends to celebrate her birthday over the weekend. At the cake-cutting segment, I had my girl’s godparents lead in a prayer of blessing and consecration over her. The little celebration we had for her was held at a commercial venue and we booked the space for 5 hours for our event. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, we overran for time and started things more than an hour later. In the end, I could not deliver my well-prepared and thought out speech. It would have given her all the wisdom she would have needed to take her through the rest of her life. So, missing out on this once-a-lifetime speech left a bit of an “Aiyah, so wasted, if only I had watched the time more carefully ….” moment. Or so I thought.
As I laid in bed later that night, happy that we were spared from a potentially disastrous thunderstorm that threatened our outdoor event just minutes before it started, and that we had a great party after all (the copious amounts of alcohol also probably had a part to play in my sense of ‘happiness’ as well), I reflected on the events of the day. That’s when I realized that in God’s ‘plans’ for the party, He knew what were the most important things that needed to be done, and had ensured that time was adequately provided for all that to happen. As her godparents led us in prayer – we remember who her real Father was and that she is only on loan to us as her earthly parents. We prayed to be grateful for the life given to my child, for the love, care, providence and protection that she had received from so many around her, for the gift of her faith – of having a God and a heavenly Mother that simply will never let go of her, even if at times in her life, she would sooner let go of them and barely cling on. And of a God that truly knew His plans for her salvation, her prosperity, her true happiness and fulfillment which her earthly parents can never be able to give her, no matter how hard we tried and how much her thought we did things in her best interests. That she was the daughter, not of frail and sinful human parents, but of the Almighty God — creator of all things and only from whom all good things can come.
At the party that day, God reminded me that of the 5 hours given to us for the party – in just 20 minutes, we did manage to do the most important thing – that is to give account of how we have spent the last 21 years as caretakers of His child, on loan to us. And to never forget that we must never separate her from her Father who created her and loved her, since before the beginning of time. And as my girl slowly but surely gains more independence with the passing of time, our parental duties do not wane, for we are responsible to ensure not just preparing her only her earthly life but most importantly, to help lead her to her heavenly Father, who will show and fulfill her purpose for being born; and to whom one day, she will return to when the ‘loan period’ is over. Until that mission is done, ours as parents, is not. In the divine party plan, that 20 minutes of prayer and consecration was all that truly mattered and needed. Just as one sacrifice from an only Son, was all that was needed and mattered. To save all the rest of His children. To show them that all that really matters is love – His love. For us. And in the plan of God the Father, the mission and purpose of Jesus’ own birth and resurrection are, in the words of Jeremiah 29:11-13, “…. plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart”.
We all know our birthdates and those of our children. But how many of us have yet to figure out why they were born? Have you?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us to be good parents of those you have entrusted to our care on your behalf. Remind us that we are but temporary guardians of the children whom you loved infinitely more than we ever could, because they are your own. Help us fulfil this most sacred duty and vocation to leading your child safely through this earthly life, and lead them safely in the divine life that we will return them safely into your living arms one day.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the 21 years of life, love, health, family and faith. All these things that are so precious, so important and which only you can make possible. For always watching over her, protecting her, helping her, guiding her, providing to her, comforting her. Bless her journey forward into adulthood and help her to discover your wonderful plans for her. And for all your children.