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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Prodigal Wife

This week's gospel story of the Prodigal Son is one of the most well known parables in the bible, and with good reason.  It is so rich in the lessons that it teaches.  When the kids and I read it together earlier this week, we talked about how you can always go back to God no matter how bad you've messed up, how God trusts us even when He knows we're going to make a mistake, and loves us enough to let us make those mistakes, and how even when we feel left out or abandoned that God is always with us.  For kids, this stuff is golden - so easy to understand, and hits right to the heart.  They immediately see themselves in the story, as one character or the other. For me however, I think it's one of those stories I'm too familiar with.  I glaze over it quickly, not really applying it to my own life because I think I know everything there is to say about it, I've heard it all so many times before.  So I took it as lesson to teach my kids, and carried on.

This week ended up being a real doozy. I've been in a real rut lately, being so busy for what seems like forever (doesn't life feel that way sometimes?) and generally feeling like when things get crazy as they often are, the things I want are generally the ones that go undone.  A lot of the time it's my own doing, I am very quick to sacrifice doing something for the sake of making everything else run smoothly.  And yet, sometimes it just all comes to a head.  I know I can't be mad at anyone for it, that if I want something bad enough I have to just speak up (or be willing to not hold onto it if I've decided I can let it go).  But resentment is a funny thing, and can creep in when you least expect it.  And it thrives on circumstances that cause you to burn out. And so this morning I went into mass with a heart filled with hurt and bitterness, over what I couldn't even possibly pinpoint, but just generally feeling exhausted, worn out, and needing a break.

And as I listened to this gospel that I am so familiar with, the words of the older brother struck right to my heart, and I realized that this is what I've been living for the past little while.  "What about me, Lord?"  I'm constantly saying to myself.  This vocation, everyone's vocation, is difficult at times.  It demands great sacrifice. And sometimes, that seems overwhelming.  I never realized how much I am like that older brother, looking on the other sibling and wondering why I am not entitled to the same things he is.

The work of a mother goes largely unnoticed.  The mess you work tirelessly all day to keep clean can be completely undone in the five minutes before your husband walks in the door.  The tears you try so hard to keep off your child's face can return in a split second of conflict or frustration.  The peace and patience you work so hard to acheive can vanish in an instant of ill-temper and poor self control.  All of that can leave you feeling like it's all for nothing.  What about me Lord, where is my reward? 

In those desperate moments, the answer to us is the same as it is to the older brother in the prodigal son: "My child, I am always with you, and everything I have is yours." When we feel like we need a break and we just can't get one - He is there.  The peace we so desperately seek is available to us now, in this crazy moment - "All that I have is yours."  We may not be able to leave the kids and retreat to Starbucks with a good book for the afternoon (or even at home for that matter) but it doesn't matter. God is not a God of circumstance, He is a God of consistency.  And He is always with us, waiting to give us everything we need if only we would ask.

In those moments when we feel most deperate, may we always cling to your promise - knowing you are always with us, ready to lavish us so generously in the gifts which you have prepared for all your children. 

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