Sometimes, I have a tough time relating to Jesus.

There. I said it.

It’s not that I don’t (imperfectly) revere Jesus in His divinity. But in His humanity? It’s a little trickier for me.

Jesus wasn’t a flesh-and-blood parent, raising kids in an increasingly tech-driven and politicized, polarized world. He was an itinerant preacher leading a life of extreme poverty, not streaming Netflix in a comfortable suburban home in the twenty minutes He can stay awake after the kids are (supposed to be) in bed. He was, you know, God and didn’t struggle with sinful tendencies, followed by the shame and guilt that can plague us. 

Instead, I have often found camaraderie in the Saints as I strive for my own version of holiness. There lies a myriad of sinners like me who were working to cultivate a moral life in deep communion with the Lord.

Jesus, Lord of Lord and King of Kings? I’m here for it. Jesus, a “regular” human who experienced the trials of human existence? Well, it’s been a bit harder for me to swallow.

But last week at Mass, He seemed to speak to my heart as I received Him in the Eucharist. How often do you make your love known to your kids and they take it for granted? How small would you become to feel your children’s love for you?

As I prayed post-Communion and in the days after, I kept coming back to the idea of the Eucharist—that flesh-and-blood Jesus—as the epitome of relatability for me as a mom. Because He was right. I constantly wait for my kids to see my love for them and give it to me unasked in return. I yearn for them to acknowledge as I give and give and give myself for them. I often reach out in a bid for connection, only for them to not want to bake cookies right now, to feel “too big” to snuggle with Mommy, to want to play with friends instead of with me. How often do I do the same to Jesus?

He is waiting with love for us in tabernacles and monstrances all over the world, yet so often he is brushed aside, taken for granted, or even mocked. How often are we moms also just waiting, waiting, waiting . . . unseen, unrecognized, even scorned undeservingly?

If you struggle like I do to relate to Jesus’ humanity, maybe pray with these questions:

  • Do you ever feel like no one sees all you do? How much time, effort, and attention you put into providing for basic needs, not to mention the extra acts of love that often go unrecognized? Jesus does.
  • Do you ever feel like your children judge you and your decisions, despite all that they don’t know? That they don’t see all of the thought and creativity you put into even the most mundane aspects of their lives? Jesus does.
  • Do you wait with patient eagerness for the moments when they seek out love and affection from you, not because you need their validation but because you just so earnestly love your kids? Or do you secretly relish the days when you rock a sick child who is uncharacteristically snuggly, loving that they turn to you when they feel the worst? Jesus does.

He waits for us every minute of every day, and for much of that time, we give Him only a passing glance. In our most desperate moments, we cling to Him for hours, days, weeks on end, only to forget His tenderness when the world is right again. We make assumptions about where He is or how He is working—with human brains that can’t possibly understand His divine plan. And we take for granted all of the small ways He provides for us, often demanding more without even recognizing we have more than we could ever need.

Jesus Christ was and still is human with a beating heart that totally, desperately, passionately loves His children. When we parents struggle to know how to relate to Him or love Him in return, we can reflect on how we long for our children’s recognition, gratitude, respect, and love, too. And when our children fail to love us the way we desire and deserve, we can unite that suffering with Christ’s wounded Sacred Heart and offer reparations for the ways in which He goes unrecognized, even scorned, by the world.

The Saints are great examples and friends for us, not just because they are flawed and relatable. More importantly, they point us to Christ and the beauty of a life deeply rooted in Him, despite their personal sufferings or the state of the world they lived in. But while Jesus may have not struggled with using His smartphone too much, He does know about love in ways we may have never considered.As we finish out Advent and look forward to Christmas, the Church invites us to reflect more purposefully on Jesus as Man. I hope to take more time to reflect on Jesus’s invitation to see myself in His humanity, in the ways He experienced—and still does—real human suffering that isn’t as far from mine as I might have imagined.