My Mom’s Handprints

Pedro Mendez

Connecting Faith and Life

My wife and I like to invite friends to try Honduran breakfast when my mom is in town. It consists of eggs with chorizo, refried beans, cream, cheese, and homemade tortillas. Once, one of our guests pointed out that homemade tortillas show the handprints of the person who made them. My mom had made tortillas that day, so they had her handprints. My mom has left her “handprints” not only on all the tortillas she has made but, more importantly, in the place that gives meaning to my life.

During my mom’s last visit, about a month ago, she and I had many conversations amid the busy, silly and crazy life at our home with four kids under five. I keep close to my heart two of those conversations, in which we talked about God, Sacred Scripture and how God’s works are made concrete in our lives with the help of the Holy Spirit. My mom speaks about God with a disarming humility that depicts her love and trust in God. I told my wife those nights, “I can’t take for granted that I get to talk with my mom about the most important person in my life...about the One who really matters, God.” So, I talk with one of the most intimate persons in my life (my mom) about the Intimate One (God)! What a blessing!

When I ponder my faith relationship with my mom, I remember Timothy’s faith experience at home. Paul states it as follows: “I am reminded of your sincere faith (Timothy), a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure lives in you” (2 Tim 1:5). Notice that Paul writes about “a faith that lives” in them. It sounds like faith is an organic reality that confirms what we believe. For instance, going to confession confirms that we believe in God’s mercy. A faith that lives in us shows that we have moved from a simply professed faith to faith made concrete in our thoughts, words, feelings and actions. Faith that does not live in us is dead and, therefore, fruitless. One of the reasons I believe in God is because I witnessed my mom’s conversion to Christ beginning in July 1986. 

When was the last time we talked with our children and parents about the faith that lives in us? It might seem intimidating if we have unrealistic/idealistic expectations. A common mistake we make is to talk first about the Church’s ethics, dogmas and theology to the point that, in some cases, we make our loved ones feel guilty. Even though those topics are very important, we might consider first sharing our experience of God wherever we are in our relationship with Him, with our fellow humans and with nature, and do it with honesty and transparency. So, little John asks his father: “Daddy, who is God?” John’s dad might answer: “Son, I am not sure if I can capture all of it, but God is the Father who provides all we have.” Or an adult child talking to his mother: “Mom, I know this is weird, but I had lost my faith in God because dad passed away unexpectedly; but I have cried out to him desperately. After two years, I finally feel peace even though I miss him terribly.” A parent recovering from addiction might say: “Son, I know how much I made you suffer; but after praying and struggling for five years, I feel that God is restoring my life. Could you please forgive me and pray for me?” 

My relationship with my mom is imperfect and has significant wounds. Hopefully, they will be healed as she and I continue to live our faith in Christ. Now, my wife Emily also makes homemade tortillas! They are delicious too! She is also leaving beautiful and challenging handprints in my life and the lives of our kids. And, yes, marriage and family are a beautiful mess. But we have the handprints of the living God in us empowering us to live our faith in him. Would you join me in sharing the faith in Christ that lives in you with your parents and children?