When my children were still young, we lived just a block away from a river. Once I had a child old enough to watch the “littles,” I loved to go on walks from bridge to bridge and back again. I was thinking about those walks last week and remembered the time I met up with a friend. She was about eight years older than I, and I thought her family was amazing. She had six children, who were all friendly, helpful, courteous, and with a great sense of humor.
As we talked along our way, I told Mary how much I admired her family. “I hope my kiddos turn out just like yours,” I told her earnestly. “I think your kids are so great!” Mary stopped and just stared at me. “Honestly?” She asked in disbelief. “Yes, of course honestly,” I replied, laughing. For a moment I thought that it was she who was kidding. “Don’t you think so, too?” “Well, no. Not really,” she replied.
Stunned, I wondered how you could have such great kids and fail to see how terrific they were. As we walked, I had a flash of inspiration. “Mary, I think you’re spending too much time looking at them under a magnifying glass,” I proclaimed boldly. “I think you should take a few steps back and try to view them through the lens that I might use—or better yet, look at them through the eyes of Jesus.”
We walked on quietly, but Mary had a small tear in her eye. Finally, she said, “I think you’re right. I focus on ways each one should improve or overcome one bad habit or another. And sometimes I see my own faults mirrored in their actions, and then I really become anxious about them.”
That little talk stayed with me, and as my children matured, I would sometimes check myself to see if I was viewing them with a magnifying glass too often.
This past week, one of my sons travelled down and visited. We had a wonderful time and began talking about how his kiddos were doing. I told him what a good job he and his wife were doing. He started shaking his head, beginning to list areas of concern. “Listen,” I told him. “You need to stop viewing them only with a magnifying glass, and look at them with the eyes of the Lord. Take the time to enjoy them—to delight in their accomplishments and their desire to do activities with your family.” Just like Mary so many years ago, my son stopped to think and realized that my advice had merit.
“I guess I do focus too much on the things that need fixing and not enough on what’s going right,” he said. He wants so much to do what is best for his children and works hard to raise them to love the Lord, the Church, and one another. It’s easy to become stressed and think you are not doing well enough. But I could see him start to relax a bit as he thought more about what I said. “Maybe take out your magnifying glass only once a month,” I added jokingly.