Friday, September 6, 2013

Full of Grace

One of my favorite aspects of the Catholic faith has always been the way we honor Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I love the meditative and reflective nature of the rosary.  I love that my religion accepts in faith that our spiritual mother continues her work on Earth.  And I love that my faith places the role of mother as one to be revered, respected and, indeed, honored.

As a mother wholly unlike any other, Mary accepted her challenge and burden with grace, humility and obedience.

There's a dirty word anymore, huh? Obedience.  We are strong, ego filled, individuals... and with God forever pushed from the forefront of our thoughts, we generally think of obedience as only pertaining to interaction from person to person; wife to husband, children to parents, employees to bosses and that idea gives us chills so we toss the entire word out the window.

But here's the kicker.  Mary, whom we call 'obedient' was anything but to the societal mores of her time.

From getting pregnant out of wedlock to allowing her son to question elders, Mary, in trusting God, broke rule after rule.

She was completely alone in her situation and had to trust God entirely.  She had no parenting books like, 'Balancing mixed families, Deity and Stepfather under one roof.' Nor coffee dates where she could vent, "I know Cheryl, I'm sure little Matty is a hellraiser, but try telling God's Son to stop talking to angels and go to sleep."  And she couldn't even pull the, "it's your genes," frustration line to Joseph when Jesus had aversions to leeks and chickpeas.

(*not teaching theology of Jesus' diet.... just go with me here..)

Anyway, while contemplating Mary's incredible task, it dawned on me just how rare it is that I trust my own God given instincts in parenting.  I turn to the internet when the sniffles come on strong, I consider consulting a psychiatrist when discipline issues arise at school, I read books on birth order and giftedness and I compare subconsciously on Facebook to see if my kids vacations, activities and accolades are on par with their peers.

And suddenly I saw Mary in a new light, as a new kind of source of guidance.  Because, though, I am not raising God's child, I am raising children of God.  Do I have the faith to raise them as God intended, and not in response to the noise of societal norms around me?

Can I accept the uniqueness of my parenting situation?  Can I accept the individuality of each of my children? Relying on faith, love and grace can I raise them obedient to God's standards instead of popular standards of the day?  Can I accept that God gave me every gift and capability I need to raise them, teach them and guide them?

Can I, in turn, accept the God-given uniqueness of the situations of other mothers and not be so quick to judge, blame or assume?

And though each book, friend and counselor can be a gift from God in and of itself when I need help, can I let go of absolute control and truly trust in God's graces?

Can I toss aside the 'rules' of how to be the cool mom, envy of carpool drivers everywhere and instead listen to and Obey God's rules?

There is a cacophony in my head telling me no.  Telling me maybe just one more book, one more article, one more blog.  Maybe my kids need more activities? Maybe it is more important to be popular than kind?  Maybe they'd be more popular if I dressed cuter so other moms would want to hang out with me.  Maybe it is more important to be successful than giving?  Maybe I should be smart and teach them to look out for number one.  Maybe I'm doing every single thing wrong.  Maybe I should just give up because does what I do as a mom really matter anyway?  And Mary was such a great mom and look at what happened to her Son.  And even if I did matter, aren't we all going to die in climate change or WW3 or from the next flu anyway???  GAAAHHHHH

When the noise begins to deafen and chaos clouds my thoughts there is a small, gentle voice calling me and calming me.  And I remember why I began to write today.

One of my favorite aspects of the Catholic faith is that it taught me to ask help from Mary, ever faithful, ever full of grace.

     Gentle woman, quiet light,
     morning star, so strong and bright,
     gentle Mother, peaceful dove,
     teach us wisdom; teach us love.

If you were looking for something a little lighter... here are some clumsy cats. God wants me to teach my kids to laugh at animals falling down... right?

thanks for reading,