Lenten learnings out of the mouths of babes

By Courtney Grussing, guest columnist

I am honored that The Post Online has invited me to be a guest columnist. My first thought was, “What valuable insight do I have to share with others?” As a mom with four young children (a 10-year-old and 6-year-old triplets), it was suggested I might want to share my thoughts and reflections on faith and family from a Lenten perspective.

My faith journey has been lifelong and ever-changing. I attended Catholic school as a child and our family attended Mass every weekend. Lent meant giving up something that I really enjoyed and not eating meat on Fridays. I didn’t think too much about it. As an adult, the significance of Lent has changed for me and continues to change. I see Lent as a time to do better, a time to ask for forgiveness and a time to forgive.

Now, instead of giving something up, I prefer to try to do something more. Several years ago during COVID, my oldest child, Teddy, and I started something called “Send a Smile.” We each did something every day of Lent that we felt would make someone smile (from a safe distance). We wrote letters, made cards and sent video messages to family and friends. We both really enjoyed it, but the best part was hearing about the joy that our “smiles” brought to others.

Small gestures, big impact

This year my kids were eager to tell me about their plans for Lent. My daughter, Emily, wanted to give up TV and fighting with her brothers (the most unrealistic Lenten sacrifice I have ever heard!), while my son, Teddy, wanted to pray the rosary every day after school. I also encouraged them to try to do small acts of kindness that will help brighten someone’s day. I want to help my children see that the smallest gestures often have the biggest impact.

One thing I didn’t realize until I was an adult — a parent actually — is that not only would my relationship with God and my understanding of my faith continue to grow, but it would often be through my kids.

On a recent school morning, I raised my voice to let it be known how frustrated and disappointed I was with my kids’ lack of cooperation. We regrouped and were on our way to school when Tommy, one of my triplets (who hadn’t planned to give up anything for Lent), calmly asked, “Mom, can you give up yelling?”

I raised my voice to let it be known how frustrated and disappointed I was with my kids’ lack of cooperation . . . . Tommy, one of my triplets calmly asked “Mom, can you give up yelling?”

My six-year-old’s honest and innocent question helped remind me about doing better, asking for forgiveness and forgiving. I apologized to my kids, asked them to forgive me and we talked about how we can ALL do better. One of the many beautiful things about children is they are very quick to forgive. Couldn’t we all learn from their example?

Shortly into the Lenten season, our family has already made plenty of mistakes and we are off to a slow start with the “extras” we are planning to do, but with each new day we have the opportunity to try again. What a gift — the chance to improve! Talking with my kids about why we observe Lent and how we can each grow closer to God and Jesus is the best way for me to continue my journey with my own faith.

Courtney Grussing, her husband Mike, and their four children are members of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Philo. Write to her at cjgrussing@gmail.com.



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