There are so many things to learn, and the more things you find out, the more you want to know. I was very excited to have the opportunity to go to a Women’s Retreat this weekend, at my parish, Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor. Sometimes, when you think you know what you will find somewhere very familiar, you find the unexpected. I found that there is a lot more to learn about my faith, other faiths, and all the beautiful women at my parish.
Father Ben Luedtke gave a great couple of talks to us women. It was very inspiring. In fact, the more I hear him speak, the more I feel inspired to live each day actively working to be a better Christian. The problem with even the best of desires is that there is this learning curve, where we work so hard trying and pushing ourselves to do or be something that goes against our nature, and it’s way harder than we think, but if we stick with it…..many good fruits come our way. It’s like trying to teach yourself an instrument. The only thing you can do to improve, is practice. The only way we can improve ourselves is just to….. try.
I remember when I only had two kids, and I was COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED…and I swore like a sailor. It’s really quite embarrassing to think about now, how horrible that I even KNEW those words, and then I USED them at liberty every time I felt at a loss. I remember the first time it occurred to me that I needed to make a change. I was helping in Eva’s preschool that morning, and we had hustled to get Judah to the babysitters house so we could be to school on time, so needless to say I was running late, and flustered already when Eva stubbed her toe and promptly said quite loudly, “D@mn IT!” I felt red and tiny and absolutely ashamed! I had taught my daughter (who was already spunky enough without the vocabulary) to cuss when she got hurt.
What can a mother do?! At the time there was no reprogramming my mind- I thought I was way to far gone to just STOP swearing, so I told my little girls and husband to pray over me every time they heard me cuss. The results were quite humbling. My four year old laid her little dimpled hands on my arm while I was listing profanities to the dinner cooking on the stove, and prayed to Jesus, “Help my Mommy say nice words.” I was amazed at how their sweet prayers really worked. I was very convicted to clean up my mouth and reform my ridiculous ranting. All we can do is try, and let God work. Well it did work, and even though I have had (several) relapses, generally these days I have a clean tongue, and the thought doesn’t even come up to say a bad word.
God can transform us and fix our little quirks. He can take us, a bumpy lump of clay and turn us into something beautiful, something useful…like a beautiful decorated vase. He can make us into a reflection of Himself. If only we are brave enough to ask for it. Father Ben told a great story of when he was driving Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and was very lost. He was so so lost, and they were on the verge of running out of gas with no hope of finding a gas station anytime soon…Mother Theresa asked him to pull over so they could pray…they sat there and patiently prayed the nine Memorare’s that Mother said she uses in an emergency. When Mother Theresa asked Father Ben to start the car back up, it started immediately, and before he knew it, Ben was in front of the cathedral they were looking for. Even though they were late and he was getting the death stare from his Superior, Father Ben remained in the car with Mother to say the nine Memorare’s of gratitude for God answering their prayer. See how generous God is?!
All we have to do is ask, and we will receive. I hope I won’t jinx myself or something, but I feel like it’s more than luck…every time I need something, notice I didn’t say every time I ask…I mean when I need something, God gives it to me. He seems to be quite deliberately giving me things I want as well as what I need, and I am so so full of thanksgiving for the many gifts he has given me. It’s insane, because not only do I not deserve this stuff, this clarity, this grace, often times I REJECT it. You know how it goes. God sends you a friend who is willing to do some amazing thing like help with dinner, or take care of the kids, and you say, “NO,” simply because you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or put themselves out for you….But God is relentless in His generosity, never giving up on us, never stopping his gracious flow of love, no matter what!
Marriage, parenting, and being part of a family is a vocation. That means it is well beyond us. It is part of a system of mercy that God wants us to experience so that we can be with Him in Heaven. All the suffering and outrageous amounts of poop have a purpose. We are learning how to sacrifice small things for His Glory. In doing this we let go of a tiny part of our self. There is no ego in the word “mom.” There is nothing glamorous about breastfeeding or changing diapers or making one.more.sandwich. And that is why we are given our vocation. If we are to be the hands and feet of Christ here on Earth, then what better way to learn to help others than to be given this tiny person who is completely dependent on us for everything?
Father Ben talked about salvation history, and how the great I AM transcends all time, so that when we are at church praising God, we are praising the infant Jesus freshly born- right now- in a manger! We are worshiping Him in His Mother’s arms when she finds Him in the Temple. We look at our crucifix hanging up behind the alter, and we see that He is dying for my sins in this instant! Father Ben says that at the time when Christ comes again we will see the togetherness of this mystery! I can’t wait.
Until then, listen to this YOU TUBE video while you are folding laundry, and hear the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And remember if you have some really loud-crazy-inquisitive kid- he just may make a really great priest……….someday.