“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10
Who am I?
It’s a question we sometimes ask ourselves. It can be a reflective question, help us spur up some motivation to adjust our priorities, or sometimes we ask and have no answer.
As I’ve travelled through my vocation as wife and mother I’ve often been left unsure of the answer. I’d previously been very comfortable in who I was, but cleaving to my husband gave me new responsibilities and direction. Having children really turned things upside down. I no longer had time or energy for the things I used to do that made me ME. The important, mundane, exhausting, and subliminally rewarding tasks of motherhood consumed me and I no longer recognized myself in the mirror.
Through all of these changes and my identity crises God was constantly bestowing His graces, strengthening me in my weakness and giving me the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Every time I’d ask Him this question, “Who am I?” there were always two answers – the most important being His beloved daughter.
Wherever you are on your journey, whether you are sure of who you are and where you are going or you feel aimless and completely lost in the darkness, rest in the knowledge that you are who you are by the grace of God. He loved you into being and delights in you. His grace is sufficient and is not bestowed in vain. You are a beloved child of God. That is who you are.
Happy feast day to all of our guardian angels (and happy October)! Miss daily Mass, don’t own a Magnificat, and want to see today’s readings? Check them out here on the USCCB website! We know, we know…the featured image for this post features Christmas angels (and ornaments!) and it’s still ordinary time over here, BUT two things: first, our guardian angels are with us during Christmas and secondly, those are from my mom’s mantle at Christmas and I just love her house then. A preview of an upcoming post, perhaps? We shall see!
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 336: “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” You can read more about the angels in the catechism online here. How cool is it to know that we have an angel as a protector and shepherd for us from conception to death? Dearest guardian angel, pray for me.
This reminds me that I’m never alone and that God is providing for me ALWAYS, from the time I was in my mother’s womb until I return to him. I mean, we know that he gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us as well, so we’re never truly alone, but this brings me to a greater point that I heard in our deacon’s homily yesterday: God gives us second (and third…and seventh…and fiftieth…) chances.
God wants us to seek him, but he’s constantly seeking us, too.
Does it matter if I let my plate get too full and skimp on the prayers? Welllll…yes, for my spiritual health, it does. But it isn’t a deal breaker for God. He wants us to get back on the proverbial horse when we fall and pick back up where we left off. Like Bridgette mentioned last week, God can take that which we can’t, and he’s always there for us with open arms.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” ~ John 11:33-36
You might recognize these words from the Gospel of John or maybe these verses get overshadowed by the verses that precede and follow. I know for a long time I didn’t think much of these words, until I needed them.
I don’t know that I ever really grieved the death of my mother. It’s a pain that lingers and fades and occasionally causes me to raise a fist at God in anger that my boys will never know her this side of Heaven. That she wasn’t there to talk me through my first pregnancy or childbirth when I thought I would need her the most. That I can’t call her when I have no clue what to do and need advise or just to chat about the day and the exciting things going on.
It’s easy to think God did this on purpose. It’s easy to think God doesn’t care or isn’t concerned with our pain and struggle when we are in the midst of hardship. Maybe yours isn’t the death of a loved one, maybe it’s a class at school. Maybe it’s a relationship gone wrong or a job that doesn’t fulfill your needs financially, professionally, or personally. It’s easy to lash out and get mad at God for not providing for us the way we would like.
Get mad at God. He can take it. He gave you your emotions and they are good. But while you are angry at Him for His silence think about why He might be silent.
Perhaps you’re not listening or not ready to hear what He has to say about the situation. Perhaps He is holding you or carrying the yoke alongside you. Perhaps He knows the beautiful outcome that awaits you on the other end, but also deeply understands the pain in this moment. Perhaps you are in the fire for your own purification.
Perhaps God is weeping, too.
We are going to suffer in this life. We just are. We live in a fallen world surrounded by sin and free will. Our God is good and faithful, and He is always there when we need Him. Sometimes He will act like a mighty wind and defeat our enemies for us. Sometimes He will be a good Father and know that He shouldn’t. God knows when to act and when to be silent and when He is there is always love in the silence.
Patriot Day. Did you know that today has been celebrated as such since 2002, on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? Did you realize it’s been sixteen years?!
I remember this day so vividly. I was a junior in high school, heading from my Pre-AP Physics fifth period class to my APAl US History class. My friend, Kristen, met me to walk together to class and said, with an almost chuckle, “An airplane hit one of the buildings in New York.”
I was still trying to process her statement when I walked into the classroom. The TV was on, displaying billowing smoke from one of the towers and a plane sticking out of it. Our eyes were glued to the screen. Just as the bell rang, we watched is disbelief as the second plane crashed into the second tower.
The classes were 90 minutes long. This one will always stick out in my mind as the longest class. We opened our textbooks, attempting to determine why today, not realizing the significance of 911. Then we kept hearing about Dulles Airport on the news, but we heard Dallas and began to freak out in that teenage way, because many of our families were employed at DFW International Airport.
We were learning about the American Revolution, and our teacher silently typed an outline, printed them, turned them into transparencies, and asked that we copy them down. It was surreal.
In 2007, I became a teacher. At that time, my students still remembered the day. We had excellent conversations and created a mural on the board as a memorial; something I continued to do until 2011, on the 10th anniversary, when I taught fifth grade social studies.
At that point, the students no longer remembered it, and many weren’t yet born.
As a Parent
Little Miss loves museums. One that we frequent had a piece of one tower on display and she stared at it, eyes aghast at the thought that it once looked like a normal piece of building steel. I should say that I now work in the steel industry, so she is aware of what beams and columns are meant to look like. Immediately, Superman and I were inundated with questions about the day. I recounted my memories, as above.
Superman said, instead, “You know, honey, I actually went on a date that night.” Little Miss asked if he was scared. He replied, “Not really. I mean, it was horrible and tragic, don’t get me wrong, but I know that God is in control of this world, so there was no sense in being fearful.”
Out of the mouth of my wise husband, ladies and gents.
He’s SO right.
I’ve been thinking lately about how I struggle to feel like I have everything under control.
It isn’t my world to control.
Yesterday in the homily, Fr. Eugene spoke of natural disasters and how it is our practical Christian life to reach out and help these evacuees. He also added, however, that we cannot live in fear of it happening to us as well. He said, “Don’t worry about it. Just make sure that you’re with Jesus and living the life you’re called to as a Christian.”
Amen to that!
So are you worried? Anxious? Already freaking out about the holidays?
Listen to Fr. Eugene.
Don’t worry about it. Just make sure that you’re with Jesus and living the life you’re called to as a Christian.
P.S. We’d love to hear your memories on this day, as well as your tips for weaning control from yourself and living the Christian life.
A Story of a Doll & a Nightmare
Little Miss received a very neat doll for Christmas last year from her “church grandma.” The doll is from the 1980s and is a blinking, mouth-moving, doll version of Teddy Ruxpin, complete with books and tapes. Her name is Cricket. Little Miss loves to pretend she’s her little sister. Superman likes to pretend she’s scary. Jokingly, we sometimes call her Creepy Cricket.
Last night, Little Miss let out a scream so shrill both Superman and I sat straight up in bed. I quickly made my way to her room and she began to share her nightmare. Basically, at a sleepover, Cricket named Little Miss and one guest as girls she admired and then began to turn on the others. Not a pleasant dream.
I’d be lying if I said I was 100% focused on everything in Mass yesterday. My mind wandered. We were distracted by a tiny beetle crawling around that Little Miss named Billy Beetle. I didn’t feel well. It was the first day of faith formation.
But the second communion song drew me back. It was Be Not Afraid. It’s a song I’ve loved since about age seven, when I memorized it alongside my aunts and mom in the choir.
Be Not Afraid
It’s a great message. Angels often say it to initiate contact with those in their presence. St. John Paul II reiterated this simple statement.
All the things distracting us yesterday, the bad dreams…they are not of God. We are called not to live in fear, but live in hope.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics: “Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me and I will give you rest.“