This is the second part of a multi-post series all leading up to a grand, does-this-fit-together-anywhere-outside-of-my-heart-and-head post. Yesterday's post, A New Pair of Sneakers, can be read here. I'm calling the series "Lessons I'm Learning."
An entire year before I bought myself those new sneakers I listened to the Celibatio Celebratio episode of the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast. Though it is about celibacy and the priesthood, the discussion had a huge impact on me and left me pondering all sorts of aspects of vocation in general, the more specific vocation of wife and mother, and my particular vocation as wife of Travis, mother of L, Ben, JF, Resa, Joe, Tee, and the baby who was in my womb. I have re-listened to that podcast probably 25 times in the last sixteen months.
One line in particular struck me profoundly. Quoting Bishop Cozzens of St. Paul, MN, Fr. John said, "No one looks at Mother Teresa and says, 'Oh it's such a shame she can't have children' because she was so fully living out her vocation." Those words were a challenge and a balm.
Now I know people have said about me, "Oh it's such a shame that Bonnie can't use contraception." But, for whatever reason, when I heard those words about Mother Teresa I knew that those people are wrong. If they look at my life and pity me then they're clueless. My life is filled with laughter, hugs, and snuggles. It's filled with JOY. It's filled with LOVE. It's filled with LIFE! My life, my children, my home, my contraception-free marriage are blessings!
There are people who don't like Mother Teresa but you know what, I think those people are dumb. Crazy. Blind. I don't care what they think. So those words were a balm: they helped me to see how rich my life is and how silly I am to care what the naysayers think. Those party poopers are wrong and it's sad that they cannot see the joy, love, and goodness of my life when it is right in front of their faces.
The challenge came because I realized that if I live our my vocation half as well as St. Teresa of Calcutta then people will look at me and say, "Maybe I can have another child, or should go to Mass, or work on my marriage because I want what she has" instead of "What a shame..." My challenge then was to focus more on God and His blessings and to enjoy the life and vocation He has given me. Now, granted it took weeks and months of pondering this for me to really understand this all but I got there.
Fast forward a year to this past September. I've got my new shoes and Blessed Is She asked me to answer the question, "How might your life change if you agreed with God's Word instead of the enemy's lies?" I was honest and shared that I often spend most of my days telling myself lots of negative - actually horrible - things. As woman after woman opened up about her own lies and how things would be different I realized two things.
First, all of it is CRAP. Women I admire were talking such smack about themselves and I thought to myself, "That is not true at all!" to which the Holy Spirit answered, "Right! And it's not true about you either!" Mic drop: Holy Spirit.
Second, I spend so much of my time worrying about what a loser I am that I cannot do most of the things I want to do. When I pray that God will be able to use me for His honor and glory but then I'm so caught up with thinking about ME there is no way I can be mindful of others or hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. People around me are lonely, afraid, and suffering and I'm too busy telling myself - believing the lie - that no one wants to be around me that I am not there to love and serve them. It's stupid.
Now, those realizations were able to take root in my heart and I was able to see them as Truth because God had been preparing me for a year as I prayerfully thought about that podcast episode. It's amazing. Once upon a time a Bishop made a remark which stayed in the heart of a priest. And then one day that priest's friend was discussing something with him which called to mind the remark. The priest shared the remark with his friend and the world via a podcast, a ministry. And that remark was heard by a woman one thousand miles away who stood in her kitchen, barefoot and pregnant and washing dishes, and it settled in her heart. That remark stayed in the fallow ground and was tended by our sweet Lord over silent months. The Truth in the remark took root in her heart and grew until one day it broke through and God was able to speak to her in a way He hadn't for a long, long time. It's amazing.
- grace builds upon grace
- God is steadfast
- podcasts and social media can be powerful tools for those who are building up the Kingdom
- I am not a loser
- my life is good
Come back tomorrow for the next post in the series.
PS - I talked more about it on The Jennifer Fulwiler Show