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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Singing to Survive

One of the greatest fruits of my lenten penance to give up grinding my teeth was my coping mechanisms.  Things started off great - there was so much grace and I knew the Lord was lifting me up.  I went a few weeks without grinding my teeth (and losing my temper) even once, and the whole time was very aware that this was not of my own strength.  But the time came for me to stand on my own two feet, and as the Lord slowly lowered the burden of my struggle back onto my shoulders, I began to feel its weight once more.  One particular morning, as I was getting ready to be out bright and early (a particular challenge with six children), I could feel my emotions simmering.  As I tried my best to maintain peace in the middle of the storm mounting within me, I was inspired by the words of a psalm I had heard so many times:

Praise the Lord my soul, praise the Lord!

I sang aloud as I scurried about, trying with all my might to hang onto my inner peace and keep my focus on the Lord.  And when I could feel myself slipping, teetering on the edge, my two-year-old chimed in:

The Lord is my light!
The Lord is my help!
The Lord is my salvation!

Praise God for the wisdom of children!  He kept me sane that day, but it remains a battle that I often lose.  And today was one of those days.  Somehow, my toddler seems to remember this lesson when I forget, and at my lowest low today broke into psalm once more:

The Lord is my light!
The Lord is my help!
The Lord is my salvation!


So I thought about this, the comfort the psalms I hear at Mass bring to me in times when I need it most.  And I decided maybe I ought to start reading more of them.  So I opened my bible to Psalm 1:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
Or stand in the way that sinners take
Or sit in the company of mockers,

But whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither
Whatever they do prospers.

Immediately the words "in season" leaped out at me.  The idea that you can't pick a fruit until it's ripened, and that it takes time to grow - that a tree can be beautiful even before its fruit is ready.  I think I was trying to reap a reward I had not yet grown - the reward of perfect patience.  And every time I felt myself bubbling over, I thought "here it goes, I've lost it again".  But I've really never had it (those I love most will tell you that!)  I haven't take the time to grow it.  My branches can still be beautiful, my leaves green but the fruit - that takes longer.  That has to be grown.  These days, they have to be weathered patiently, and with great care. 

I'm not justifying my temper.  I still hope to get to a place where I don't grind my teeth, where I don't yell so much (or maybe not at all).  But I recognize now that it is a journey, and that good fruit takes time to grow.  May I be a patient and diligent tender of the garden of my heart, so that the fruit that is born of this family life is sweet and lasting.  May my leaves not wither as I try to snatch at that which is out of reach, but prosper in the knowledge and peace that comes from living where I'm at right now, pruning and tending the leaves of my heart so that they will be capable of bearing beautiful things.

Little Psalmist

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