As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, January 1, 2011

That Family

Today, because we have some issues with our septic field that need my husband's immediate attention while the weather is mild, I had to take the kids (all five of them) to mass by myself.  I knew not to expect anything stellar of them, keeping in mind their ages and the fact that mass seems to bring out something in them that makes them get completely wired, and the fact that I only had about four solid hours of sleep last night.  Instead, as I prepared my heart before mass, I focused on the fact that this is important and that's why I'm willing to even try it by myself.  And that it is not about me but about all of us, and the greater benefit I know we will receive from being there.

You know how sometimes you just can't prepare yourself for the storm, no matter how hard you try?  That's how I felt.  We sat at our usual seat in the front, where a Christmas tree had been erected and decorated for the season - I should have picked a different seat.  Trying to keep my kids from removing the ornaments and redecorating the tree, and from jumping all over my infant in his carseat (who, praise God, stayed asleep throughout the entire mass - my only comfort!) and trying (and eventually giving up on) keeping my toddler from screaming throughout the entire consecration, to the point that a parishioner, feeling sorry for me, swooped her from my arms and took her for a much-needed walk - left me physically and emotionally exhausted.  Amidst encouragement from the priest and parishioners after mass (they are so forgiving!) I ducked my way out as fast as I could, and it was everything I could do not to burst into tears as I packed my little darlings into our van.

When we got home I sent them to timeouts or to play outside (depending on their level of disobedience at mass), and sat down, frustrated and thinking about how much I desperately hate being "that family" at mass.  You know, the one everyone stares at with thoughts like, "oh she has her hands full!", or "can't she control her children?", or even "why did she even bother to bring them when it's clearly too much?"  Week after week I feel like a spectacle at the front of our church, and God bless the lovely parishioners who are so patient and understanding at our church, because it's the only thing that allows me to keep my sanity (hanging by a thread though it may be).  I kept saying to myself, "there is dignity in motherhood, there is dignity in motherhood" because at the time I really needed to be convinced.

As I sat in the quiet of my house trying to calm my frazzled nerves, I thought about why I had even bothered in the first place - because this is important.  If I accomplish nothing else in this life, so long as my children know Jesus and how much He loves them then I have given them everything.  I knew this going into mass, and it wasn't God that was causing me to question that.  It was the voice of another, a dark one, whispering lies and causing me to feel shame and humiliation.  One who wants me to just say, "it's too hard."  I won't give in.

I also realized that I have my own struggles which make this situation so much harder than it needs to be on myself.  Because as much as I don't want to be "that family" that everyone thinks is crazy, there is definitely a part of me who wants to be "that family" with the perfectly well-behaved children, who sit still and listen attentively at mass.  Aren't they holy?  Aren't they such great parents?  Look at how good their children are.  Clearly there is something deeper going on in me, and as the Lord is breaking me of my pride the fact that it hurts so much shows me how very far I still have to go.

As I leave my quiet time to immerse myself in the rest of the day, I praise and thank God that He is so merciful to me, and pray for the grace to live up to the true dignity of my calling.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)  Jesus must have been tempted to wonder where the dignity was in His life as man, yet He did not cling to His glory, but submitted His entire life to His Father. And after being made the greatest spectacle, His true dignity was revealed.

Sometimes things are not as they seem.  Help me Lord to see the goodness in tough times, and to be humble enough to submit myself to You, trusting only in Your mercy.  Far greater than I have walked far more difficult paths.  May I truly be grateful for the trials You allow me to endure.

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