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, August 10, 2014

A Thousand Ways to Die

"Christ calls us to be like Him.  But what did He do? In the gospel, we hear that the people wanted to make Him king, because He gave them material things - fed them bread and fishes, raised the dead, cured the sick.  But He fled, out of their way, for His kingdom is not of this world (John 6:5-15).  To the contrary, Jesus did His greatest work when He was nailed to a cross, helpless, unable to give anyone anything except love and His life.  This redeemed us." (Catherine Doherty)

I just recently dove into my first Catherine Doherty book (Living The Gospel Without Compromise) and right in the first chapter she talked about how love and pain are inseparable.  Further, she asserts that in order to love as Christ loves, we need to be crucified as He was crucified - that our love is not true if we are not laying down our lives and suffering pain for the other.  Of course in romantic relationships that's quite obvious, I can't think of any dating or married couple who doesn't acknowledge at least some period of pain within their relationship.  As the saying goes, love hurts.  We get it with our significant others.

But what about our kids?  I've been praying with this idea for the past few weeks, that God would help me see the areas in my life where I need to be crucified.  And the thing is with Jeff, whenever I feel that tension or pain, I go there willingly.  But with the kids, it's a whole other story.  I spend most of my day reacting and exploding (or managing myself so that I don't), in this constant tension, like a rubber band that feels stretched to the max. Today it hits me square in the eyes though, how easy it is to say that we would do anything for our children.  We would die for them.  But do we?  I don't.  And that pains me even to write it.  The image of the crucifixion plays through my head and I see Mary, the Blessed Mother, right by her Son's side, His steady comfort.  And I ask myself, would I go there? Sadly, I don't think so.  If my current state is any indication, I'd be wailing on the sidelines about how hard this is on me, how this is just so constant, and asking when I could get a break.  I'd be shouting and gritting my teeth, and probably be angry that Jesus was putting me through this in the first place.

But Mary's not.

Today I had a moment with a particularly troublesome child, who I have been having difficulty with for a while.  I am completely at the end of my rope, and when I asked them to do something and they refused, I put them in a time-out.  I listened to this child cry and wail for three minutes (not their age, in case anyone's hoping for a hint!) and when the time was up, repeated my request.  I'm certain there were at least ten time-outs, each complete with screaming and whining, and protests about why I can't possibly do what you're asking me to do, and at one point I thought, I need to pray or I'm going to lose it! I started to say the Hail Mary, and stopped at the line, "Full of Grace".  The image of a completely serene, graceful woman (kind of like Jacqueline Kennedy) filled my head - the exact opposite of what I look like when I lose my temper and start yelling.  And then I saw the Blessed Mother again, with a young Jesus maybe trying her patience (because I'm sure He must have, even though He was perfect - because I bet a lot of that behaviour at least in very young children is innocent enough to still be perfect), and seeing her with that same grace and composure, not giving in to the temptation to lose control.  And then I saw her again at the cross the very same way, full of grace at the worst possible moment of her entire life, strong for her Son.  And I just kept repeating that line, "Hail Mary, Full of Grace.  Hail Mary, Full of Grace" and prayed that I could be like the Blessed Mother in that way.

"Cry out to lift the cross, carry it," Catherine Doherty writes.  And indeed, I have been making this my prayer.  There are so many ways we are called to die to ourselves, and yet so many ways that when the Lord gives us what we ask for, we fight it. While I had a victory with one child, I ended up losing my temper with another later in the day, so much so that it made them cry.  And I thought again of this cross and how it's so constant, and for a brief moment remembered that even Jesus fell under the weight of His cross.  But the Lord quickly showed me that while Jesus did fall, He didn't fight - and that was a big revelation for me.  This burden I feel, the weight of a million different things culminating into that one moment where I feel like I just can't handle it anymore, that's normal.  What's not okay is the fighting.  I will probably always feel this tension in some way, because that's the nature of raising children.  But in order to really carry my cross, to do what I say I would do (and what any parent would do) and be willing to lay down my life for my children, I have to give up the fight.  I have to carry my cross willingly, expecting to feel the weight of it and yes, even to fall down every now and then. But my falling down doesn't need to result in a complete loss of temper on my part.  Because even though everything within Jesus must have been screaming against the cross He carried to Calvary, on the outside He showed submission.  He showed obedience.  He showed love.

Jesus, thank you for the many ways you show me how to die to myself each day.  Help me to be like your Mother, full of grace in the face of the struggles that threaten to undo me.  Help me to love my children as you love them, as you love me.  May I never forget what it truly means to lay down your life for the ones you love.

"Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die."
(Audrey Assad)

1 comment :

  1. This is beautiful. A great reminder to deepen our love and devotion to Christ!