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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Christ in All Things

Happy New Year!  As one of my goals for the new year, I want to try and write a bit more.  Not so much because I think I have any grand contribution to add to the world, but more to have a record left behind of these current days I'm living, so I can look back and remember what this particular moment in time was like for us.  There are, of course, many different relationships woven into my life, all of which I will talk about (though maybe not in every post).  They are my husband, my eight beautiful children, and Christ. 

I'll be honest, finding time to write is difficult. At the present time for example, the baby is sleeping, my four oldest are outside, and the remaining three (toddler, Kindergarten and grade 2, for reference) were happily playing downstairs.  I thought, "oh, this will be a good time to write something!" Well let me tell you, nothing brings needy children out of the woodwork like Mom trying to spend ten minutes focussing her attention on anything other than them!  This would be the primary reason I haven't posted in so long, because to be honest it's difficult for me in this situation (the one where my toddler is now whining at my feet, for example) not to just lose my patience. But I'm going to try to just push through lovingly and without losing my temper.  Because I recognize that writing is good for me, but also being able to do so in a way that does not result in anger or impatience with my family is so valuable and important.  (Side note: the other four just walked in the door. I wonder how long until the baby wakes up? Haha!)

As I write this, I recall the readings we have been doing through our School of Community leading up to Christmas, and two points in particular that are helping me to navigate my frustration: 1) that the circumstances of our life are the vehicle through which Christ comes to us, and 2) that our hope in Christ should cause us not to lose our gladness even when our circumstance is a challenge.  So while I am tempted to just give up and save this for another time, instead it becomes an opportunity to persist - to love my family and be respectful even when they're driving me crazy, and especially knowing my inability to do this on my own, to call on God's grace to help me in this.

As it turns out my kids came home because my daughter had an accident on the sledding hill, and she was shaken up. As is so often the case, my first inclination was frustration (Why????? or Of course, right now...) but through the simple exercise of having written these words down it didn't take any time for me to push those negative thoughts away.  When I did I could see plain as day, a little girl who needed her mother.  Not just a quick solution to her problem, but a hug, a reassurance, a warm embrace.  She needed her mother to look into her face and be with her in her pain, to be a soft place to land.  In order to be that mother, it takes an awareness that life is not just what I make it, it's these little moments that are given to me.  Because just by taking half a second to breathe, I can see in a whole new light. It's as if Christ gives His vision to me, and what I thought was most important suddenly changes position, to reveal the fullness of what He is calling me to.  Living this way helps me to be more fully integrated with the people in my daily life: my family, my friends, the people around me, and especially Christ.  It is what makes joy possible.

I seem to suffer from a condition that is all to common for many mothers, that of "doing" too much, and "being" too little.  I feel the weight of this on a daily basis, it's often as if I'm seeing my life from above, as one big checklist to accomplish. Just prior to Christmas on a particularly busy day, when I was dividing myself between a million different tasks at once and not doing a particularly good job at any of them, I felt the Lord say, "just look at them."  Just look the kids in the eyes. And so, I did. And it brought my whole life into focus.

I will never do everything I set out to do, but that doesn't matter. The most important thing is that I allow these things, and the tension that comes from my inability do everything perfectly, not to cut me off from those dearest to me, but rather to help me live more fully with them. To choose someone in a moment of ease when everything is in perfect order is beautiful, but more powerful still is to make a choice for them when it's not so easy, when it involves sacrifice. The sacrifice of a perfectly ordered home, of a few uninterrupted minutes of gathering my thoughts, of my sanity, time with a hobby.  Of course those things are important (and in fact my second goal for the new year is to remain faithful to a weekly time alone).  But sometimes choosing to put yourself aside to enter into the life of another is the truest form of affection you can give.  Doing so with your gaze on Christ removes the frustration and allows a gladness to permeate your heart, so that when you get back to what you were doing (in this case, finishing this post), you are no longer angry or frustrated with the interruption, but grateful. This is how I want to live 2018, with a gaze on Christ that overflows into each relationship in my life, and transforms my frustration into a gladness for all the circumstances He gives me.

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