I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. My brother is not perfect.
Ever since we announced that my brother would be joining the seminary it seems as though people’s perception of our family has changed. People tend to assume that my parents were the perfect parents, besides, who else would raise a youth minister and a future priest? People think that we are this perfect Catholic family, and I can guarantee you that such a perception is far from reality. I am a youth minister, and my brother is a seminarian, but that is what we do, it is not who we are, and there is quite a difference between the two.
This is not, of course, to say that my parents are bad people or that they were bad parents. My parents were and are wonderful parents and I thank God every day that I have been blessed with such loving and caring parents. However, my parents never set out to raise a minister and a priest. They set out (I believe) to raise happy, healthy, well-rounded people. They never steered us towards or away from any career path. Their desire was for our happiness, so long as we didn’t find our happiness murdering people or something equally as horrid. Whoever or whatever my brother and I end up becoming wasn’t what really mattered to my parents. All they have ever wanted for us is to know who we are and to be good, virtuous, grounded people.
From the outside looking in we might look like the perfect Catholic family. People assume that we went to daily Mass growing up, that we prayed the rosary constantly, and took part in a whole host of other stereotypical Catholic activities. None of these are true, but that doesn’t change a single thing in my mind. My brother sins (I am sure…his tales of seminary life are quite interesting) just as much now as he did before he entered the seminary. I sin just as much as I ever did before becoming a youth minister. We are broken, fallen, flawed people, just as we have always been. Who we are, our core values and beliefs, have not changed. The way we live out those values has changed, and maybe that is why people’s perception of us has changed. Just because my brother and I now share a call to ministry doesn’t mean that we are perfect or that we came from the perfect family. In some sense, I feel as though nothing has changed since my brother entered the seminary. When he has some rare time off he and I still joke around like we always did. We pick on each other (though he isn’t allowed to use sarcasm anymore, which may be my favorite thing about him entering the seminary!) and have a good laugh. We play games and give each other crap about same things we always have. He is growing and maturing and deepening his faith, and that is beautiful to watch. He is still, and always will be, my baby brother, regardless of whether he one day becomes my Father.
All this to say that no one is perfect. My family is just as quirky and weird as we ever were, and I rather like it that way. My brother is my brother whether he is one day ordained or decides to return to college. The love I have for him does not at all depend on what he does. The love I have for him is constant because not only is he my brother, but he is also my brother in Christ. From the outside looking in we may appear to be something we are not. You can’t judge a book by its cover. You don’t really know a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. All the old adages are true. If you get the chance to peer into the window of someone else’s life, do so with love. You might run into someone at the grocery store, at Mass, or in line for confession and they may appear to be something that they are not. Learn to try to perceive people as God does: not so much for what they look like, but who they are underneath, at the very essence of their cores. The invitation is to love, regardless of what you think about a person from the outside looking in. The love, or lack thereof, that you show just might make all the difference in the world.
What I’m Listening To:
“Like Jesus Does” by Eric Church
“Seventeen” by Dave Barnes
“Love Will Be Enough For Us” by Dave Barnes
“Springsteen” by Eric Church