By: Tabitha Garnica
The joy, love, and innocence of a child are some of the most beautiful blessings we have here on earth. As we grow older, our hope and joy often become fogged by superficiality, resentment, and skepticism. My baby sister has opened my eyes to how we should truly love God and others. Here are ten lessons she has taught me in the past ten years:
1. Saints are Awesome
My sister has displayed a great appreciation for the lives of saints. As an animal lover, she has always felt a deep connection with St.Francis. More importantly, she made it a point to learn all about his life and service. Recently, she has found hope in the life of newly canonized St. Kateri Tekakwitha. She read her biography and has a statue of her on her bedroom dresser. Often we forget the importance of saints to our faith. In praying for their intercession, we turn to those who were not born without sin, yet still found a way to devote their lives entirely to God’s will. Through their examples, we can relate their trials to ours, and look to their lives to show us the way to overcome our obstacles.
2. Animals are God’s Creatures
I was never much of an animal person growing-up. Yet my sister has taught me what a blessing they truly are. She sees their beauty and the positive light they bring to the world. We must never underestimate the gifts animals bring us. When I see the joy in my sister’s eyes every time our dog trots into the room, I see a reflection of God’s love.
3. We Must Have the Courage to Stand Up For What We Believe In
Last year, my sister’s teacher asked to speak with my mother privately. Apparently, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the students were asked to say what their dreams for the world were. Without a second thought, my sister said, “I have a dream that there will be no more abortions.” Praying for an end to abortion is something that she has become very passionate about through the years. When my sister said that, she did not even think about the fact that she might be judged. That is how we are meant to live our lives as faithful Catholics; stating our opinions and our hopes without reservations about our reputations or our popularity. Yes, maybe it is not meant to be discussed in a third grade classroom, but if my little sister can have the courage to be open about her beliefs at such a young age, what excuse do we have as adults?
4. It Should be Cool to Pray the Rosary During Recess
My sister let it slip that she often prays the rosary during recess. I am nervous to do the sign of the cross in front of my friends! Why must we be so bashful about showing signs of our faith? In the end, our relationship with God is the most important relationship we have to develop. No, we must not flaunt our faith to be showy or prideful, but it is not something that is meant to be hidden either. If we are feeling God’s presence in our lives, the best we can do is share that presence with those around us.
5. We Should be Open to Whatever Vocation God has in Store for Us
I once joked with my sister about the idea of her becoming a nun. Shockingly, she replied with a “maybe.” I then asked if she wanted to get married, to which she answered, “Tabitha, I am young. I do not know what God wants yet.” The beautiful thing is that she is not ruling out the possibility of religious life. More so, she is leaving it to God’s will rather than her own. In our current society, there is very little understanding towards the idea of religious life. This only means we must be all the more attentive to God. He is going to call out to us, but it is our job to tune out selfishness, skepticism, and fear, and answer him.
6. We Must Let God’s Will be Done
This past summer, my sister became very sick. It seemed serious and I had never seen my parents so worried. My sister noticed the fear in my father’s face and said, “Don’t worry daddy. If God wants to take me now, it’s okay.” How often are we unwilling to trust God’s will? She showed me that our hopes and dreams must always be preceded by God’s plan. We must be willing to say, “Thy will be done.”
7. You Can Never Have Too Many Bedtime Prayers
My sister has accumulated five bedtime prayers. She says each prayer every night. Faith takes discipline. We must not be complacent or let our daily religious rituals become monotonous. We must remember we are giving up our time to God, and he deserves our attention.
8. We Must Take Our Own Purity into Our Own Hands
Because of our age difference, it has been difficult to preserve my sister’s innocence through the years. One night I was watching one of my favorite sitcoms with her in the same room, and a character said a curse word. She told me she did not want me to watch that show with her around because she felt she knew too many curse words for her age. I felt terrible, but I was also incredibly proud of her. As we grow older, it is harder for us to take initiative to preserve our innocence. Sexual temptation plagues teens, as well as the temptation to fit in at all cost. We must be resolute to preserve the purity that God calls us to strive for.
9. We Must be Able to Humble Ourselves and Gather up the Courage to Repent for Our Sins
My sister gets extremely nervous before going into confession. Yet, not once has she ever refused or complained about going. Although it is very difficult for her to gather up the courage, she knows it is something she has to do for God. It is very difficult to go out of our comfort zones, especially when it comes to faith. We may want to rationalize and excuse ourselves from what we fear. God does not expect us to be fearless, but He does expect us to look beyond ourselves and work to bring ourselves and others closer to him.
10. Through Our Own Lives, We Bring Others to God; Whether or Not We Realize it
My sister has no idea how much of an impression she has made on my life. She has brought me closer to God simply by being herself. Our joy, hope, and love will be marked by others. May we not be afraid to live out our faith to the fullest. May we follow the example of children to strive for innocence. May we be open to bring our faith to others.
Copyright (c) Tabitha Garnica 2013 All Rights Reserved