May 27, 2011

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

How Scripture changed my relationship with my daughter

Debra TomaselliI rely on Scripture for guidance. Sometimes, like this instance, the message is so direct that I can look back and see how it changed my life.

I was at a crossroads with my daughter, Lynn, who, while away at graduate school, started dating a man that I didn’t like. Right from the start, my husband and I could tell there was something special between them, and we weren’t thrilled about it.

One particular night, I called her to let her know.

Justin is a nice guy, but I didn’t like his job as a waiter. I didn’t like that he quit college. I didn’t like that he wasn’t Catholic. I didn’t like his public school education compared to Lynn’s Catholic school culture.

Did she consider these things?

As I spoke, Lynn burst into tears.

“I understand your concerns,” she said. “But I like him so much! I can’t help it. I really like him.”

Then she added, “You never know what God is going to do.”

The next morning, I was a lector during Mass. My reading was from the Book of James, Chapter 5, and began with verse 9: “Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates” (Jas 5:9).

I cringed! Was this meant for me or what? At home, I e-mailed the passage to my daughter.

“OK,” I said, “This message is for me. I felt I had to address those concerns about your boyfriend, but I’m done now. I get it. I won’t say anything again. Just be sure of what you are doing.”

From then on, I kept my mouth shut. My feelings didn’t miraculously change, but I tried to keep my opinions to myself. I had to revisit the Scripture passage, and push myself to trust God with the outcome of their relationship. It wasn’t easy.

The following year, they were married. Shortly thereafter, Justin decided to become Catholic and invited me to be his sponsor. We attended weekly RCIA sessions, and afterward we would stand in the parking lot for hours, talking about faith and its impact in our daily lives. We grew in respect and belief.

During that process, Justin followed what he believes to be God’s call to start his own business, and even in these recessionary times Justin’s company is blessed with growth. Today, he employs five people. Pretty amazing for the guy working in a restaurant who seemed to have no future!

During all that, they started a family and Lynn is living her dream of being a stay-at-home mom. They have three kids, and she is expecting their fourth child. They join us for Mass on Sunday and pray together at home. They are one big happy Catholic family, and they bring much joy into our lives.

I don’t like to think what course our relationships would have taken without that pertinent piece of Scripture, and I remain thankful for the instruction.

“Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates” (Jas 5:9).

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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