“My child, you should know how to master yourself amid the greatest difficulties, and let nothing drive you away from Me, not even your falls” (1823).
Our good and patient God gives us the option to place our trust in either him or ourselves and others. The major difference between the two is that the Lord will never let us down whereas others will, even and especially our own selves. It can be very difficult for us as mothers to accept that we disappoint and hurt others and others, in turn, hurt not only us but also our family, the people we love and are called to protect. These wounds are painful and yet we are invited to be people of forgiveness and trust. “My child, you should know how to master yourself amid the greatest difficulties, and let nothing drive you away from Me, not even your falls” (1823).
When we stumble and fail in life, especially in regard to the vocation of wife and mother, we must refuse to fall into despair and instead cling all the more firmly to Christ. The pure action of turning to Christ during difficulty is a sign of faith and as a result, we receive even more graces.
As a busy mother, I tend to fall and fail in my vocation when I allow the stresses of this life to overwhelm me. I start to think of my failing as a mother and what I am lacking instead of focusing on the generous gifts the Lord has provided. This habit is detrimental to a mother’s soul because our worldly stresses are not meant to be carried alone. We are called to trust in Christ and turn these matters over to Him.
As Catholics, we have an invaluable gift which is very helpful in breaking this cycle: the blessing (yes, I said blessing) of confessing our sins to a priest. I call it a blessing because it is not intended to reinforce our guilt and failure, but is instead an opportunity to be freed from our shame and sin and unleashed to go forth as even better mothers than before. This gift blesses the whole family because the old adage rings true: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My family has learned from experience that when I’m sorry for my shortcomings and make the effort to go to confession, I’m seeking out the graces I need to change my life and theirs as well.
After hearing my confession, a priest once told me that when I’m stressed, I must realize that I’m attempting to “control versus trust in the Lord”. This desire to control leads to even more problems. Nothing is resolved by stress. It’s just an emotion that clouds the situation at hand. The reality is that the more stressed I am, the more I want everyone to “act and do” certain things that I believe in the moment will improve my stress level. These actions include things like homework, cleaning or even practicing piano or sports. Although these are all good, if I simply take a few minutes to mentally remove myself from the chaos to pray, not only does the break calm me down but it also allows Christ to inspire me to choose what matters most in that moment. Sometimes it doesn’t include doing any specific thing but simply focusing on being with my family in a tender way.
Knowing yourself and your emotions is key to living out this spirituality. If certain things trigger you to become upset and react out of stress and anger, hand these matters to the Lord. Whether it’s complaining children, a messy house, lack of sleep, laundry, poor grades in school, or any of the other irritations mothers frequently deal with, Christ is yearning to carry the burden for you. If you’re not sure exactly what increases your stress level, ask the Lord to show you what it is so you can hand it over to him. Figuring out what triggers your feelings of frustration and also becoming comfortable with your own unique parenting style will help you show mercy to others.
Someone once told me, “Some of us parents need to get off the couch and others need to learn to sit down and relax.” Seen from this perspective, we can determine which of those we need to do and respond accordingly. Some of us need to get off to the couch and do more with our children around the house or in the community while others need to sit down and read, pray, or make the effort to train ourselves to slow down enough to hear the Lord.
No parent is perfect. The fact is, we need Christ to strengthen us to embrace our vocation and find peace through the words, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Learning to deal with the stresses of motherhood will not only help you as a parent, but will also carry you closer to Christ and ultimately bring you peace.