Monthly Archives: May 2014

Spiritual Earwax

037
I had a birthday. Yep, not so exciting anymore, is it? On my birthdays I seem to always look inside and ask myself what I have accomplished in my years, and am I satisfied. Mark Twain once said (supposedly), “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

As I was lying in a hospital bed a little over a year ago (confined there post c-section) with my newborn sweetly sleeping with complete abandonment on my chest I was reminded of Mark Twain’s quote. Of course having just been on an exhilarating emotional roller coaster I was high on joy. What a big day for her, her debut! But I was unexpectedly struck by a profound realization that this is the reason I was born. I was born to be Mama. It was an important day for both of us and what a blessing to feel God confirming my vocation!

Shortly after her birth (my 2013 birthday) I reflected: This is it! I have my career, but my kids will be my life’s work! But something didn’t ring true, my faith is a big part of my life, but is there something more. Bl. Dorothy Day was 31 when she converted to Catholicism as a single mom and started a movement dignifying and reaching out to the poor. She has always been an inspiration, and I found myself being inspired again. I was a Catholic Worker in Houston, Texas for about a year after undergrad. It was a formative year, but even as I experienced it I knew it would be hard to maintain that intensity of spiritual exercise once I entered back into the secular world. And I was right. This reflection brought to my attention that I was putting limits on myself and my family and that I could give God more. God didn’t want me to be too content in my happy little life, but to keep central in my life’s work more intimacy with Him and the paths He paves.

I had already been involved in “40 Days for Life” with one hand in, now was the call to go ALL in. It was time to go from “if” or “when” I have time, to I will sacrifice and make time if it so pleases God. I am still trying to hear with clarity what my calling is exactly for this pro-life cause, but God has certainly used pro-life spirituality to help me unplug some of the spiritual earwax that had been building up over the years. I feel more in tune with God than ever before. The things in years past that would have stressed me out, don’t as much, not because the stress changed, but because I did.

It is hard to put into words all that I have gained by going “all in” for the unborn. One of the most important things it has taught me (or at least made some good breakthroughs) is humility. Humility is a hard thing to learn. It is easy to judge. We make conscious decisions. How can we see others make poor choices and not condemn them as irresponsible, inconsiderate, selfish, uninformed, etc. There are a lot of people who have had abortions. Sin is a trap we all fall into. But Jesus came to save not to condemn, so we must learn to humble ourselves and not look down on others that don’t think like us. God will judge, when we judge we often render our efforts ineffective. We have an important message – abortion or any other sin is not the answer, Christ is! When non-believers feel Christ’s love through Christians instead of judgment their hearts soften not harden and they begin to allow God to reveal Himself to them. Pride is the deadliest of the seven deadly sins, and humility is a most beautiful virtue. Sometimes I think it is a lost virtue reading comments on Facebook; how quickly people are to make assumptions, resort to name calling, and look down on others. Have you asked God for humility? I did and I kid you not the next day out of the blue, my husband decided to trade in our lovely little SUV for a 2003 Chevy minivan! I can’t say God doesn’t answer prayers! Ha!

In seriousness though, reconnecting with God’s almighty grace has undoubtedly made me a better person and as such has made me a better mother. So, it comes full circle that I was born “to be Mama” to my children and part of my charge is to be the best example of Christian living I can. I must teach my children to find and follow Christ or as the facebook meme says the world will teach them not to. St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God made you to be and you will set your world on fire.” I haven’t set the world on fire, but my 31st year rekindled a fire in my heart that I hope my 32nd year will keep ablaze.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” In the face of over a million abortions per year in the US, just being born is an achievement. The pro-life generation (under 25) has shirts and slogans that say “I survived” since 1/4 of their generation has been aborted in the US*. But really, we have nothing to do with the when, where, to whom, and potential ifs of our birth. We each take our individual set of circumstances and talents and try to find and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

If you have not discovered the reason(s) you were born- do not despair, no matter your age or stage there is still time! I find prayer and fasting are great tools in removing the spiritual earwax that may be muffling your divine calling to receive God’s graces. ; ) For those of you that are Catholic (or those that aren’t!) Mary our spiritual mother is like a Q-tip she is a great instrument that can be used to clean out what comes between us and God : )

*I have heard the statistic 1/3 of their generation, but when I do the math of 1.43 million abortions in 1990- the highest abortion year nationally, and 4.18 million live births in 1990, I get 0.255=25% -of course abortions are under reported, etc.

Motherhood: A Lesson in Divine Love

054

Recently, I saw the following excerpt on Facebook that reminded me of the sacrifices mothers (and fathers) make out of love for their children.

“Your Mother carried you inside of her womb for nine whole months, she felt sick for months with nausea, then she watched her feet swell and her skin stretch and tear. She struggled to climb stairs, she got breathless quickly and even a simple task like putting her shoes on was a huge struggle for her. She suffered many sleepless nights while you kicked and squirmed inside of her and while you demanded that she scoffed junk at 3am, she then went through EXCRUCIATING PAIN to bring you into this world.”

Yes, it is true, I have given birth, and pregnancy, labor, delivery and nursing aren’t all roses, and things don’t exactly get any easier from there. One time my three year old asked me what those lines were on my stomach and I explained they were from when she and Siena (1 yr old) were growing in my belly and I came to the conclusion that instead of stretch marks they should be called “love marks,” so that is what I told her they were. Love the verb not the feeling. Love the act of giving of oneself. Love the nausea and vomiting, the varicose veins, the stretch marks, the gingivitis, and the sleepless nights. But these sacrifices aren’t exactly voluntary in the sense that you can opt out of them, they are just part of the cross called pregnancy and they are just the beginning.

Mothers and fathers make many sacrifices. They may give up social events, vacations or in other ways direct their spending towards their children’s needs instead of their own. Some may give up careers or promotions for their family or others may get a second job to afford what they want to give their children.

When I was a teen I thought I should write a poem for my mom about how being a mother is like being Christ. For just as my mother gave me her body so that I might grow/flourish and have life so did our Savior. Jesus gave us his life on the cross so that we might have eternal life. And He gives us his body in the Eucharist so that we might be in communion with him now. Motherhood is a lesson in divine love. Learning to give even when the cost is high. For as St. Theresa said our crosses are the ladder to heaven.

I know I didn’t really understand the love God has for me (and each of us) until I became a parent. I understood it in my head, but I never really knew its full strength in my heart until I possessed a fraction of that same love for my daughters. If you are a parent you may know the feeling, the pure selflessness where you would bear your children’s pain yourself if you could. There is no doubt in my mind that this is part of God’s plan for parents. Becoming a parent teaches one to become less selfish. You hear all about the stretch marks and the literal (but also metaphorical) dirty diapers of parenting. Sometimes I think our society emphasizes these negatives too much. Few people even attempt to articulate to new parents or non-parents the stretch marks on your heart. Trying to describe the good stuff is like trying to describe beauty, since many of the joys are intangible. And I think we are sensitive to not rubbing it in to people that don’t have kids.

The sacrifices may be big and small, but investing in this kind of love pays infinite dividends. I think my daughter Charlie said it best. When she was two and Siena was 4 months old the three of us were snuggling in bed before we started the day. She said to me after smothering the baby in a hug, “I love Siena, she makes me happy in my heart.” Two years old and she said it perfectly! Her genuine affection and honest emotion just melted me. You can’t put a price on open-mouth-slobbery-baby kisses or hearing your three year old say she wants to marry Daddy when she grows up. I think that for many people parenthood is an integral part of our path to salvation. I am NOT saying that you have to be a parent to get to heaven, there are LOTS of people who unselfishly dedicate their lives to helping others and do not have biologically children of their own. I am also not saying that people without children are selfish, though perhaps some of them choose not to have children for selfish reasons and are not fulfilling God’s plan for their lives.

Did you think this was a prolife blog? Are you wondering what this has to do with abortion? Have you ever wondered like me why God made us so fertile so young? Why is it that teenagers are even able to procreate when as teenagers we are so selfish? I don’t have the answer, but I guess in our ever increasingly ego-centric society we need to hold onto something to help us see beyond ourselves more than ever. I hope that my meaning is coming across correctly. I’m not pushing for teen pregnancy or that we all should be parents, but parenthood does mature many people’s spiritual lives in a sense, even if it is unrecognized. Asking women with an unplanned pregnancy to “see it through” is no small thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing. Motherhood is a high calling, but I would wager that the majority that rise to the occasion (whether keeping the baby or bravely choosing adoption) have no regrets for the rewards are great.

The calling: To give, to give till it hurts, to give even when it hurts (if you’ve ever breastfed you know what I’m talking about here) and even remarkably like St. Gianna Beretta Molla, to give one’s very life for their children. Parents, especially mothers, are able to uniquely unite themselves with Christ through the power of sacrificial love. What do the wounds of Christ mean to you? Do you have “love marks” from where God has stretched you?