By Carrie McCormack
FOR me, being Catholic has looked different at different seasons of my life.
I had a vibrant childhood with six siblings and a busy young adult life.
I completed a bachelor’s degree and was employed as an allied health professional.
Rocking up to youth group was a habit but I still lived a worldly life.
I experienced huge childhood heartbreak when my family broke down.
I was only 10 years old.
At the time it was hard to make sense of it all.
When I was 19 years old I was at a youth Mass in Melbourne and it was something the priest said before Mass that changed my life forever.
He quoted Psalm 139, “God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.”
A deep and personal connection with God’s love began to grow in me.
I had never thought that God knew me, that he was interested in everything that ever happened to me, including the pain in my life.
I started to believe that even though I was unaware of God being close to me as a child, he was with me.
When I was holding my first-born child I felt that my life was vastly different to life before kids.
I had been a confident, well-paid health professional with a clear job description to direct me.
I had a plethora of youth events to keep my faith inspired and had many ways to serve in the Church.
My approach to prayer, my ability to serve and my participation in Mass was now drastically challenged, “How was I to sustain the gift of faith as a new mum?”
I knew I could push through and try and juggle my previous lifestyle, but deep down I knew there was more to being family than that.
I knew there must be a way to translate all that rich formation and desire for a mission into my new family life.
There have been innumerable ways where my husband and I have experienced the fruit of this desire to integrate.
Some parts have happened naturally, like we are more awake and alert to the changing seasons socially, politically, developmentally, educationally, by the pure fact that they affect us more profoundly.
Other ways are more intentional, for example, how we plan for our family.
We are always seeking what God wants first before significant decisions.
Another way is the way we view our belongings; we question how our possessions are either upbuilding or a distraction to God’s plan for our family.
In our family journey I see daily how my children draw me into a deep pilgrimage with Jesus as I encounter the best and worst in myself.
I have learnt to remember that in being this person, “mother”, I am being someone very close to Jesus’ heart.
God promised through Isaiah 40:11 that “He gently leads those that have young”.
Without realising it, family life meant I had enrolled in an extension program in discipleship, leadership and fellowship – to follow Jesus more closely than ever and lead my little ones to him.
I value that their spiritual life will be the greatest adventure they will ever have.
As their parent I know I am key to building the foundations of their life, so they embrace their own life purpose and are empowered to respond to God’s call on their life.
Jesus goes ahead of us in everything.
Through the incarnation God has sanctified childhood, motherhood and fatherhood.
He has made a way for the whole family.
There is no path that Jesus has not walked before us.
This gives me confidence that as a family we are not going to face anything that God can’t help us with.
I can see now how all the seeds of faith that have been scattered in my life as a child, as a young adult, are coming to season now in family life.
Our focus is to sow into the next generation and beyond for they are the future of the Church.
Being determined to integrate our childhood and young adult faith formation into adult life has transformed our family life into a sacred and adventurous journey.
Carrie McCormack is a Brisbane mother of four and founder of Mother Effect.