When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. (Is 43:2)
As a mother of three incredibly sweaty, but terrifyingly amazing sons, I have had the occasion to enter into a fairly repetitious monologue with each of them during their teenage years. It’s the kind of “speechification” that typically elicits yawning and no small amount of eye-rolling. What can I say? I have a gift, ha?
Nevertheless, my job as a Catholic woman of faith and a mom is to make sure that I drive home the message to my children that no matter our circumstances we can always be confident that God is with us, He is in control, and He is trustworthy. Those poor kids of mine get pretty darn sick of hearing my Jesus girl ramblings. The Lord never sends any of us into battle alone, though. In a variety of ways, He is ever-present…supporting us always.
Enter Emily McAulay. I’ll be utterly candid. With fair certainty, I can tell you that I have never officially met Emily. However, this absolutely does NOT disqualify me from declaring her a faith-filled savant who specializes in the successful evangelization of teenagers. I want to tell you more about what she spends her life doing that absolutely glorifies the Lord. Sharing how she is the face of Jesus to human beings she’s never even met seems like the best way to start.
Like all of us do at various times, my youngest son has traveled a bumpy stretch of road the last couple years. Honestly, it’s nothing overly eventful as these things go but that doesn’t mean Z’s cross doesn’t feel heavy. Raising young men of character, integrity and strong faith is far from simple… and families, school, health, sports, and covid-related chaos all can add up. This is especially true for young people who are just beginning to try and navigate in a more adult and less childlike fashion. Being a parent in 2021 is complicated. God never sends us into situations alone, though. He walks beside us every step of the way. This past week, He did that in the person of one Emily McAuley.
When a rain-drenched, bleary-eyed, Santa hat wearing Zach Thieme arrived at the passenger side door of my car with a big smile on his face, I knew that his junior retreat had gone well. I didn’t even have to utilize the open-ended questions I had prepared, because Z was in a talking mood on that car ride from the St. Joseph Retreat Center in Tipton back to Carmel. The first thing he did when he mentioned his retreat group leader, Emily McAuley was say, “Oh my gosh, Mom, she’s just an absolutely AMAZING person! She was totally awesome!!” And just like that, I thought to myself how fantastic it was that for this moment in time, my relentless effort in pursuit of Christian virtue for my son felt a little less lonely. She might have thought she was helping kids, but it was so much more. Whether they know it or not, there are 7 other families to whom God sent a modern day Simon of Cyrene last week. In the person of this young high school guidance counselor from Guerin Catholic, there was a selfless woman who has chosen to be the light with her life. Who in their right mind decides to spend 72+ straight hours, with little sleep, (drinking cherry flavored ginger ale some 17 year old provided) while devoting herself to the faith formation of other people’s sons and daughters? A few other crazy people did the same. Today, though, I’m focused on the gal who made a difference for the Thieme family.
What I know about Emily personally is very little– you see she’s not assigned to our part of the alphabet as a counselor. She’s evidently a unicycler from Texas. That’s what it said when I stalked her Twitter profile. The young people she counsels described her to me as kind, soft-spoken, and “not super outgoing”. In my observations from a distance, I’d add friendly, conscientious, and joyful. She has a glorious smile too.
It doesn’t matter. I know enough. So, I’d like to just take a moment to give a shout out to a beautiful soul who happens to be a selfless, joyful light of Christ to a whole lot of young people and their families. I feel confident that those for whom she works each day in her role at Guerin Catholic are very blessed by her competence, compassion, and care for her students. She’s so much more than a woman who makes sure kids get into the proper classes, though. One mom said it best. She said, “Emily is a difference maker.” A to the MEN.
Today, I wanted to make sure she knows we see her– and so does Jesus. Sometimes, we are quite aware that our presence in the lives of others and in the work that we do makes a difference. Other times, we honestly don’t have a clue that our efforts are in the least bit worthwhile. Emily? This week you reminded my son that He is loved without conditions. A guy needs to hear that from someone besides his momma sometimes. THANK YOU. You are a big ladle of awesome sauce and what you do matters so very much!
“Wherever God has put you, that is your vocation. It is not what we do but how much love we put into it.” –St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta
This week, let’s all aim to make the world a better place by trying to be a little more like Emily? What do you say, friends? Be the love.