The Gift of Suffering
Surprisingly, one of the keys to the longevity of our marriage is suffering.
Suffering was a gift which unified us because it stripped away false pride and forced us to our knees in prayer. Honest prayer led both of us to self-knowledge, humility and compassion for each other.
When I asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not suffered, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house, he put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice,
”Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.”
What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was I would be shallow, without depth and strength. Well, when I see the results of a bit of suffering in our marriage, I say bring it on.
Our society is bombarded by grotesque images of war, starvation and torture; it is almost immune to the most horrific scenes flashing across the media. Sometimes humour, warmth and humanity gets the point across.
With this thought in my mind, I have created a few pro-life memes which centre on the power of prayer and the love of Mary our mother for the unborn. rather than horror. Let us celebrate the miracle of life and birth.
I raised my nine children in the shadow of other dedicated Catholic mothers, mostly homeschoolers, who thought Halloween was evil, dedicated to witches. Their children were not allowed to celebrate with their neighbors but went to a church basement to celebrate All Saints Eve.
This church was an hour away from us. More importantly, I felt my children suffered enough because of a perceived alienation from their peers. At our tiny Catholic, country school everyone dressed up for the day and often joined friends afterward to go door to door. I did not want to deny them the joy and creative fun which surrounded this cultural, childhood tradition.
Catholics generally don’t think of Jesus as an evangelist per say, but rather a storyteller. Well, the Son of God understood parables are powerful vehicles for truth. Since parables impact people when they can relate to the details of the story, Jesus told stories about the ordinary people of His day.
Nancy Ward also understands when people simply tell their personal journey of faith in their own words, they can help others who are seeking an authentic meeting with God. Ordinary people can reach, or evangelize, many who are outside the traditional Church.
Mommy, Mommy, When you Pray, by Kimberly Cook, is a delightful picture book, written and illustrated by a mother with an eye for colour and an ear for lyrical language. This little book will capture the hearts and minds of children as well as their parents. Images and words work together harmoniously as her colourful illustrations and words vibrate with joy.
I smiled as I read every page.
Before I had the courage to let go of my whole way of living, two inner images rose up in my mind as symbols of my controlling behaviour.
I removed all religious comments from this article, to post it on a secular site and I have decided to leave it this way. The churched reader will know all the biblical references and the unchurched and seeker will not be overwhelmed with Catholic lingo.
When my family was still young and I had only seven children from twelve-years-old down to a newborn, I earnestly strove to raise the best children I could. Yet all my effort was actually hindering their development because my anxiety and control acted like a barrier, a prison around my them. I was, in fact, preventing my children’s inner, natural development into well-balanced, creative people.
We tend to forget how young Mary actually was, perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old. Yes, she was a young unwed mother, the perfect, powerful intercessor for the vulnerable, the unborn.
She, more than any of us understands the mystery, the sanctity of life.
Money might have been tight in our large family and life a bit messy, but our lives were filled with activity and fun because animals were part of our lives. Animals helped transform us into a playful and joyful family who sensed the Love of God in, with and through our pets.
Authentic prayer is a gift from God, a gift we receive with joy because God initiates and we simply respond.
For his 100th general audience,Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family by considering family prayer. In his opening statements, the pope pointed out that most people find it difficult to find time to pray.
Pope Francis teaches that love of God, not guilt will inspire us to pray.
Obviously, an effective mother is passionate about teaching and loving her kids.
It is passion, an inner drive, that is not dependant on seeing results right away. It is passion from the Holy Spirit that prevents discouragement or burnout because it is an inner fire that motivates and energizes mums.
We must learn to connect spirit to spirit, heart to heart with little people in and through God if we want to teach and form them into children of God.