I wake up in the morning and as I begin each day, I start thinking about how I’m going to spend my time. What work needs to be done? How much laundry will I need to wash and fold? What will I cook for dinner?
This morning I woke up and those same thoughts started spinning through my head. And then they were interrupted by a new question:
How will I bless my family today?
Living and working in close quarters, limiting or eliminating trips outside the house, dealing with the uncertainty of it all: we are going to need to bless our families by living out Ephesians 4:1-2 to the best of our ability.
We need to ask God to give us the grace to do this.
We are all going to need every bit of humility, gentleness, and patience that we can muster.
We are going to need to remember that this is hard on everyone. (I’m fully aware that I’m just as hard to live with, if not more so, as the one in the household I’m most exasperated with at any given moment.)
While we are deprived of some freedom right now, we are not, and can never be, deprived of God’s grace. He will shower it upon us. Let’s lean on that grace and bless our families with humility, gentleness, patience, and love.
Sometimes things unfold in just the perfect way, with connections made between seemingly unrelated events: there’s no other way to explain it except to acknowledge that God has put it all together, and even made some small good come out of something that started out bad.
Here’s the story.
I spent some time this weekend at an event where it became increasingly clear throughout the day that the only people welcome and the only ones whose voices would be heard were the ones who espoused a politically correct point of view (one I do not share.) Such an attitude was patently out of place, given the kind of event it was. The implicit message that I did not belong at that event because of my views was very upsetting to me.
Afterward, I reached out to a few trusted friends to ask about how I should respond to what happened. It’s certainly not an event I intend to revisit, but it’s one I’m expected to attend. Slowly, a plan began to take shape, and I felt peace about that.
On Sunday, I saw one of our deacons at Mass; he’d missed daily Mass all week (very uncharacteristic for him) so I asked if he was OK. He replied that he’d been suffering from a back problem. I figured he must have been in considerable pain, and wished him well.
Yesterday that same deacon was back at daily Mass. He normally proclaims the Gospel rather slowly and very clearly. But he was reading more slowly than usual, and it seemed like he was slurring his words a bit. (I figured he might be taking a new pain medication, and hoped he wasn’t driving if he wasn’t used to it yet.)
At the end of Mass, he couldn’t get up the aisle to leave the church without assistance. Again, I figured it must have been his back injury. Since he had a few people helping him, I continued on my way.
One of the friends whom I’d been in touch with about the weekend stopped me on my way out the door to talk about what had happened. We chatted for about ten minutes, then noticed that there was an ambulance at the other door, figured it was for the deacon, and went back into the church.
Our pastor said that the deacon’s blood sugar was very low, and that he’d eaten a candy bar and had some water.
“Candy bars are no good,” I replied. “The fat in the candy makes it slow to absorb. He needs juice first. I have some in the car.”
(Have teen with diabetes, will travel. I keep a lunchbox in my car, filled with a juice box, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and fruit rollups or Smarties. Emergency sugar, with and without fat.)
I ran to the car and got the lunchbox, and gave the Capri Sun that was inside to the EMTs. Then we all waited some more. When the EMTs came out of the sacristy looking for milk or peanut butter, I handed them the whole lunchbox so they could take what the deacon needed. Finally, they decided he was OK to go home (with someone else driving).
The rest of us all continued on our way.
This doesn’t make what I went through over the weekend any better, but there is comfort that something good — even something little — came out of it.
PSA, since it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month:
TL; DR: if I hadn’t had that bad experience over the weekend, I wouldn’t have been around Monday to help.
… all things work for good for those who love God. (Romans 8:28)
Get into a car with me and you’ll meet a whole different Barb. While I’m not Road Rage Incorporated, in the sense that I don’t get aggressive and tailgate or illegally pass people, I do vocally (with windows safely rolled up, but within earshot of my children) express my frustration with people who drive 30 or even 45 when the speed limit is 50, who leave the turn signal on for miles or don’t use it at all, or commit the Cardinal Sin of Driving: neglecting the “Thank-you Wave.”
I mean, how hard is that?
And then I remember Luke 14: 13-14:
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
In other words, I can’t be a saint until I stop expecting a thank-you wave.
OK, I’m holding many grudges. I’m good at multitasking that way, and my superpower is hanging onto a hurt/annoyance/outrage and blowing it out of proportion.
Holy Mountains-out-of-Molehills, Batman! But even I knew that this one particular grudge was getting out of hand when I started to consider going out of my way to avoid something that the Grudge-Target and I both enjoy, because it reminds me of said Grudge-Target.
Can you say, “What, are we in middle school?”
Just for the sake of example, let’s say that the Thing We Enjoy is root beer. (Because it’s not. I can’t stand root beer. But it works in this story).
Root beer is widely and conveniently available. Therefore, reminders that root beer exists happen quite frequently. When I am reminded that root beer exists, I am reminded of the Grudge-Target and how this person likes root beer.
And here’s where my Inner Middle-Schooler is tempted to avoid choosing root beer, even though I like it, because the Grudge-Target likes it too.
I have a fear that if I bring this up in confession, Father will just laugh at me, because he has no idea what it’s like to be a middle-school girl.
At the moment, making peace with the Grudge-Target may not be possible. But I have decided that it’s ridiculous of me to stop drinking root beer just because it reminds me of someone with whom I have a conflict.
I need to do something else instead. I need to pray for the Grudge-Target. I need to pray for myself, too, that I will have the courage and strength and grace needed to make peace with this person.
So I have resolved that each time I have a root beer, I will pray. May God bless me with the grace to forgive, and may He bless the Grudge Target as well.
I definitely have to stop attending those “communal Penance services.” It’s like drive-by Confession, and it’s never a good experience–which is why I let two or three years go by between Confessions, until I feel absolutely driven to seek absolution, and I drag myself there.
For me, “communal Penance services” are a near occasion of sin. (So why do I go? Because they’re not on Saturday afternoons, which are always so nutty that I can never manage to get to Confession for the 45 minutes our parish offers it at that time.)
If it were up to me, these services would be simple affairs consisting of a hymn or two, a Scripture reading or two, and a short homily from Father explaining how to make a good examination of conscience. After that, everyone lines up for Confession.
Here’s how it went last night:
Arrive and find a pew. Listen to announcement by cantor that if you forgot a “worship aid” you should raise your hand and a “team member” would bring one to you.
Hymn, Liturgy of the Word, prayer.
A combination skit/prayer/examination of conscience in which 6 costumed actors represented Isaiah, John the Baptist, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Jesus and lectors read prayers relating the examination of conscience to each of these Biblical figures.
Lineup for Confession. After the initial scramble to get in line for your favorite priest, I waited 40 minutes, only to end up with the hard-of-hearing priest who was older than Moses and looked like he might not survive the night. (Good thing the church has its own defibrillator. I was afraid we might have to use it.)
Parting gift. After absolution, Father handed me a handy-dandy refrigerator magnet “to remember this evening by.”
I don’t need “worship aids,” “team members,” costumed actors with props, and refrigerator magnets. And frankly, I don’t want them. For me, they get in the way.
I know I shouldn’t be snarky, and I’ll need to go to Confession again over that. To be fair, the service was well-done. Good music, well-prepared readers, good flow. But it felt like a performance, not a prelude to a sacrament.
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will; all that I have and possess. You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them. All things are yours: Dispose of them according to your will. Give me your love and your grace; for this is enough for me.
Great affairs do not disturb us so much as a great number of little ones; therefore, receive these also with calmness, and try to attend to them in order, one after another, without perturbation. Thus, you will gain great merit by them. — St. Francis de Sales
I found this very timely quote over at Faith & Family Live. While blogger Kelly Dolin was discussing life with toddlers, it’s no less true when you’ve got teens and grade-schoolers in the house.
After I found myself defeated, again and again, by the “little things” this week, I need the inspiration. It’s not like there have been any major crises. But it’s been a tough week, that has included:
Little Brother running a fever of 103.7, complete with a spell of vomiting.
An extended-family medical issue that culminated in a 2-day houseguest.
A bunch of teenagers who don’t follow the “say hello to the adult at home” rule when they show up to swim. They also don’t bring their own towels, and they empty my porch refrigerator of all beverages. And they leave their mess behind.
A teenager (yet to be identified) who thinks it’s funny to spell out one of George Carlin’s “7 words you can’t say on TV” with the ABC magnets we keep near the porch refrigerator. (Usually those are used to wish a friend a happy birthday.)
Adventure Boy vomiting on the pool deck (but fortunately not in the pool itself.)
It hasn’t been pretty, and I haven’t handled all of this well. And some of it’s not over yet. Now we have to play hardball with a bunch of 15-year-olds until someone apologizes for his use of filthy vocabulary and lack of respect of us and our daughter.
I think I’m going to have to pull out my Francis de Sales book and see if he has any more advice for people like me, who can handle big things pretty well, but let the little things pile up and pile up and pile up until they lose it completely. It’s going to be a long summer, and I’ll need all the grace I can get.