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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Crucified by Patience

"We are called to accept the crucifixion of patience." (Catherine Doherty).

We've all done it.  We've seen that mother out in public, yelling at her kids.  Maybe they deserved it and maybe they didn't, but when we look at her we know it's not right.  We go home and cry a little bit in our hearts, and vow that when we have children of our own, we will never do that.  We'll be patient.  We will explain to our children why we want them to do ask we ask.  We will understand that it's not easy to be a kid learning boundaries, and will be empathetic to their pushing, not taking it personally.   I will never forget visiting a relative with many children one time as a university student, and leaving his home so distraught over how much he yelled at his children (never considering for once how the fact that I dropped in unexpectedly at suppertime must have amped up the pressure at one of the busiest and stressful times of day for a household of children.)  And now, as a Mom of just as many children, I am the very same.  I never wanted to be that Mom, but I am.  I yell far more often than anyone ever should, and I am not nearly as patient and rational as I wish I was.  It is my single biggest struggle as a parent.

I love the Duggar family on TLC, and in particular am struck by just how patient and serene the mother is.  I get that it's reality TV and that I don't actually know this family personally, but I would think that if cameras were around 24/7 they would definitely catch something at some point if she ever lost her temper (or at least maybe some of the older kids would give it up!)  But she really seems to have it under control.  I've known other Moms who are the same, and in fact I strive for that peaceful patience, because I know it's a good thing.  And yet when I read this quote of Catherine Doherty's, in an instant I realized I had an unrealistic expectation of what that means.  I see these women who seem to have it all together, and I assume they are peaceful - that somehow the stresses of everyday life don't get to them the same way they get to me because they are so patient.  It never occurred to me that their patience is a crucifixion, and that the calm peaceful exterior I see doesn't come easy.  It takes work, it takes surrender.

Suddenly the task doesn't seem as daunting, because instead of wondering why I'm not there (or why things are hard) it helps me to see that hard things are a necessary part of this journey.  Patience does not equal peace, but surrender does. Surrender to the struggles that are a part of my every day as a parent is what brings about patience.  Peace is not a prerequisite, but rather the fruit of a heart that has been crucified by patience, that has been tested and surrendered to weather these tasks in love even when it not easy.  The patient heart is peaceful, but struggling heart can also be patient.  If peace is not there now it will be.

For now, I find encouragement in uniting my suffering with Jesus, who so patiently endured every kind of trial not for the sake of consolation, but out of love.  Compared to the suffering of our Lord, what a foolish idea it seems that I should desire for things to be any less than difficult.  Peace is the just reward of a heart that has united its will with God's, that has stepped out on the journey He has placed at their feet without any physical consolation, that fixed on love patiently endures every painful step for the sake of the beloved.

This is the kind of parent I want to be.  May I endure every step on this sometimes painful journey as a parent with the same kind of love for my children that Jesus has for me. The kind of sacrificial love that endures each trial willingly, knowing it is for the ultimate good of the ones I love.  Who walks the path laid before them without complaint, even in its most difficult steps.  Instead of fighting the crucifixion of patience, may I accept it lovingly as Jesus accepts His crucifixion for me, knowing that peace is not a necessary part of the present, but a sure hope for the future and fruit of these efforts of love.

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