If you’re feeling behind in December, if you’re wondering if you bought enough presents or created a special enough experience for your kids… the core of these fears is about enoughness.
But most of us haven’t defined what enough is. We feel like there is a problem but we’re not sure how to articulate it. Today Sterling shares what she thinks we’re worried about and how to focus our brains on something else.

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“And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him.” -Edith Stein

“Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.” – St. Francis of Assisi

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW

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Hi, and welcome to the Made for Greatness podcast. I’m your host Sterling Jaquith. And today on episode 59, I wanna talk about creating a good Catholic family. And this has come up for me as I’m kind of watching December playout. This is coming out in December about a week and a half before Christmas. And the internet is aflutter and the Instagram pictures flow plenty. And I notice that each year there is more and more noise about liturgical living and celebrating all the days. And most of the specialty days involve a lot of food. And so I have been having a lot of conversations with my kids who are asking me, Hey, why do my friends get to eat lots of bread or watch lots of TV or have lots of cookies, and I’m having to tell them, you know, Hey, that’s totally fine.

That’s just not what we choose. We do that less often. And I don’t condemn those decisions. And I don’t say that it’s wrong. I just say, you know, our family chooses to do it this way. And partly, you know, I like having a quiet Advent. So don’t like having a big party feeling, you know, every three days in the month of December. And there are just so many wonderful saints that you can celebrate in the month of December that, you know, it could really have that party feeling as I was reflecting on this and noticing the different ways that families celebrate feast days and December. I also noticed this feeling in my body come up about the presence that I had bought for the kids. And I was, I was done really early this year. I talked to everybody, I bought everything. I tucked it away in the closet before things, but I found myself all of a sudden feeling, oh no, what if it isn’t enough? I kept thinking, what if it isn’t enough? And now as a life coach, I’ve learned, you’ve gotta answer the question enough for what?

And so I did, I asked myself, did I get them enough presence for, and the answer that came to mind was to feel loved, to feel seen, to be special. And then ultimately, as I got more curious about this line of thinking, I came to so I can create a good Catholic family. Like there, it was at the end of the line. It was, I just really wanna create a good Catholic family. Kids who are happy. Kids who love God, kids who think fondly about their childhood. But here’s the thing about wanting to create a good Catholic family. Most of us don’t really define what good means. It’s this fanciful idea in our minds like the Norman Rockwell picture, it’s a movie idea of what a family looks like. It’s a highlight reel of the best things.

Most of us have not defined what creating a good Catholic family is. And so this question comes up, did I do enough? And for a lot of us, I think it leads to this, you know, ultimate question, am I creating a good Catholic family? But because we don’t know what that means, your brain is most likely going to tell you, you’re not. If something is not clearly defined, your brain is gonna be very sure that you’re messing it up. The answer is probably no says your brain. Maybe you yell at the kids too much. Maybe you don’t spend enough time with them. Maybe they don’t see other kids. Maybe they eat too many Christmas cookies, right? Like whatever it is, your brain is just gonna go find evidence that you’re not creating a good Catholic family.

 And so I just wanted to bring your awareness to this, share this with you because that’s the first step to changing our thoughts. The first step to changing our thoughts is just bringing awareness. What a, I think a good Catholic family means is that really important to me? Am I making a lot of decisions to try to accomplish this thing? Because I could tell I wanted to go to Amazon and buy one more present for each of my kids. And that’s not a problem, but if I’m doing it from this place of fear and scarcity, because I’m worried, they’re not gonna feel loved and seen, and it’s not gonna be special enough. And then it’s evidence that I’m not creating a good Catholic family, not great mom decision making. That’s not me walking with the Lord asking him how I can love and shepherd this family.

And so I think it’s important that you spend some time this week or perhaps the week between Christmas and new year’s and ask yourself, what do you think a good Catholic family means? Because I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, you know, in this last year and a half of coaching, a lot of moms is that our brains are pretty negative. Our brains are wired to find danger, and now it doesn’t find big danger. Like it used to, it doesn’t save us from imminent death. Like it used to thank you past brains that have done that for everyone who’s gone before us.

So what it does instead is it finds scary things in 2021 and it tries to protect you from them. And one of the scary things that tries to protect you from is the feeling of failure. So of course it would be fixated on this idea. Am I creating a good Catholic family? Because it probably thinks that one of the worst things that could happen to you is that you would get down, you know, however many years in your life and look back and think I didn’t do a good job. I didn’t create a good Catholic family.

So your brain spends a lot of time looking for evidence of this, to save you from that. But dwelling on all the ways that we think we’re not creating a good Catholic family is going to lead to being stressed, being sad, hustling for approval, buying them extra gifts that nobody asks for, and they probably don’t need being really hard on your husband. If you think he’s not doing it the right way, and of course being really hard on yourself. And so you don’t need to create a, you know, family manifesto or a list of all of the values in order to decide what you think a good Catholic family is. But I think it is worth sometimes sitting down and writing something on a piece of paper to show your brain that a good Catholic family is a mixed bag.

It’s a messy life full of ups and downs and great joys and great pains and different personalities clashing together, refining each other, becoming saints, getting a lot of stuff wrong, but learning. And one of the best ways that you can build confidence in yourself that you’re going to create a “Good Catholic family” is to spend some time really loving your childhood, really loving your family, really seeing that your parents and your childhood was absolutely perfect for you to turn you into the person that you are right now. Some of you lost parents at a very young age.

Some of you felt emotionally neglected. Some of you struggled because your family didn’t have money. Some of you were made fun of at school. Some of you were very popular in school. We all have these stories about our childhood and our family of origin, who we grew up with. And I, I will tell you that the best way to feel good about your children and raising them no matter how old they are, is to make peace with your childhood and your parents, and really to make peace with the Lord. Because when we have thoughts, like, you know, I have this complex because you know, my dad never told me I was pretty, or, you know, I was the oldest or I was the youngest, and because of that I tend to act this way. And we have these stories about our childhood and we feel like something went wrong. We’re kind of telling God that he was wrong.

We’re saying, listen, Lord, I know that you designed that childhood from me, but I didn’t like it. I think it was wrong. I think it should have been a different way. And the more you think that something went wrong in your childhood, the more you will fix it are not doing anything wrong in your own family and for your kids. And I think that bubbles up a lot around Christmas time. And I think for a lot of us, it just comes down to this thought. I wanna create a good Catholic family. Although I’ll tell you, that’s not the thought that most of our brains have, most of our brains have. I’m not creating a good Catholic family.

And so after you sit down with your paper and you write down, maybe some attributes of what kind of family you wanna create. And add some adversity in there, by the way, we need adversity to grow and to be interesting humans and well adjusted humans and humans that rely on the Lord. There’s gonna be hard, some hard stuff in there after you do that and make peace with your own childhood. I want you to ask yourself this question. What if every generation gets a little bit better? I have seen a lot of evidence of this. I have seen a lot of evidence that children are pretty similar to their parents, but a little bit better. It isn’t rigorously true.

Some things come along in life outside of the family and create a lot of trauma and one who may not then on the outside thrive more than the parents. But most of the time when I’m coaching my clients and I ask them about their mom or their dad, and I ask them about their grandparents. So I’ll say, do you know much about how your mom grew up? Yeah. A little bit. Do you think she’s doing a better job than her mom did so far? The answer has always been yes. And we drop into compassion. When we think about that, I think about that for both of my parents, they had rough parents. It was rough back then.

And I don’t know a ton about my grandparents’ parents, but my standing is, it was worse for them. And as I consider all of these people, they’ve stretched and they’ve grown and they’ve tried to make good decisions and each generation is a little bit better. And I’d like to think that I’m a little bit better than my parents. Not better than them, but I’m a little bit more stable, a little bit more, more emotionally, well adjusted. I have more tools. We have access to so much knowledge now. And so when I think about my children and my family, I love this thought. What if every generation gets a little bit better?

And that’s a question I wanna pose that question to you. You, because some of you have never considered that before. I’ve been considering it quite a bit, as I’ve done so much coaching that I actually just say it in its positive form, which is every generation gets a little bit better. And I look at the kids and I think they’re still gonna struggle. Life is still gonna be 50-50, right? They’re gonna have 50% what we would label positive emotions and 50% what we would label negative emotions. Sometimes it comes in good and bad days. Sometimes it comes in good and bad moments, but it also comes in good and difficult seasons.

But overall I’m pretty confident. My kids are gonna be a little bit like me a little bit like my husband, a little bit, a unique version of themselves, little bit better. I can’t imagine what their life is gonna be like, knowing that their thoughts create their feelings, even knowing how to name their feelings, how to label them and how to process them. That is such a huge gift that I’m giving my children. I can’t imagine what it would be like to know that at these young ages and to just grow up thinking it was totally normal to talk about that.

So they’re probably just gonna be a little bit more stable, a little bit more emotionally regulated than my husband and I, and then they too will probably have kids and worry about them and want to create good Catholic families. And then their kids will end up being a little bit better. I think it’s a really beautiful thing. And it takes a lot of pressure off because as soon as I realize, Hey, yeah, most families just get a little bit better with every generation. Then all of a sudden the pressure to buy extra Christmas presents right now to make sure that they feel loved enough or seen enough or special enough gets very quiet.

I may still choose to buy them something else, but it will just be from a place of calm or peace or joy or excitement. You know, I actually think I’ve shared this Edith Stein quote again, but I wanted to share it. I’m sorry. I think I’ve shared it before. So I wanted to share it again. This is Edith Stein who St. Name is St. Therea Benedicta of the cross? I think I said that, right? She says, and when the night comes and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been and how much you planned that has gone undone and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed, just take everything exactly as it is and put it into God’s hands and leave it with him.

I wanna read that quote again, but this time, instead of saying, looking back over the day, I’m gonna say, look back over the year. And when the night comes and you look back over the year and you see how fragmentary everything has been and how much you planned that has gone and undone and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed, just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with him. You did a good job this year Mama, you don’t need to make up for anything at Christmas time. You are raising a good Catholic family. Their life will be a little bit better than yours.

You are showing them who the Lord is. And that is the most important thing he gave you. The exact childhood. You needed to be the woman that you are right now. It was so perfect for you. The ups and the downs, the talents you formed, the adversity you experienced, it was exactly what you needed to be the Mom that you are right now to do the work that he is calling you to do. And so I just want you to have some faith in him. He’s not used to you guys. He didn’t forget about you. He gave you these wonderful children and just as he perfectly designed your childhood, he has perfectly designed their childhood, all of it.

And I want you to just take everything exactly as it is and put it in God’s hands and leave it with him, cuz he loves us so much. And then I wanna leave you with this quote from San St. Francis of Assisi, because this hope, this quote fills me with hope, makes me feel calm and lovely. Like I’m floating on a cloud and this is how I want to float into December and Christmas. And this is how I want to float into January. And the new year St. Francis of Assisi says, Lord, help me to live this day quietly, easily to lean upon my great strength, trustfully restfully, to wait for the unfolding of thy will patiently serenely to meet others peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently and courageous. I’m gonna read it one more time. And instead of saying this day, I’m gonna say this year, And I want you to,

If you can write this down somewhere, I, I want you to pray over the week between Christmas and New Years’, as you think about the year that has come, we put it in God’s hands and we leave it with him. And we think about the year that we are going to create, this is what St. Francis says. Lord help me to live this year quietly, easily to lean upon that great strength, trustfully, restfully to wait for the unfolding of thy will patiently serenely to meet others peacefully, joyously, to face tomorrow, confident, and courageously. I’m going to put both of these quotes in our show notes so you can see them. I think they are just the perfect quotes to go together.

It really sums up what I have been trying to do in my life, which is to really live in acceptance of everything that has come and to go into the future really calmly and trusting in the Lord. And when we do that, when we really learn to bookend our decisions, our days, our seasons and our years with God, where he’s before us and behind us, I think that is how we become saints. That is how we exhibit the fruits of the holy spirit. I’m praying for you. You were Made for Greatness. And I’am hoping that all of you have a really lovely and quiet finish to the advent season.

I want you to get really excited because we have an incredible announcement next week. Next week, we will be making a very big exciting announcement. Something that you guys have been asking us for pretty much all year. And we have been working on it a long time, and I’m really excited to share it with you. So I just wanted to have this quiet episode, this pause before the really exciting energy that will come next week. And to let you know that you’re doing a good job. You were a good Mom and you are creating a good Catholic family. You are Made for Greatness. Ladies have a blessed day.

                                                                                                —–

“And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him.” -Edith Stein

“Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.” – St. Francis of Assisi