This past month, I attended the second annual Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference near Bend, Oregon. One of the speakers, a mom of seven children, discussed her struggles to be fully present in her busy, day-to-day life.
I could relate.
I tend to get caught up in multiple projects, biting off more than I can chew. I think that’s how my phone ended up in the freezer that one time and how I accidentally triple-booked my family that other time.
Anyway, the speaker recently gained helpful perspective from a wise priest. He said, “Commend your past to Divine Mercy. Entrust your future to Divine Providence. Live holy the present moment.”
The priest’s words sounded familiar. Apparently, various iterations of this sentiment have been passed on for ages. In the calm of the retreat center, however, I received them in a new, heart-changing way.
I’ve been clinging to Jesus’s Divine Mercy for a long while now. I often rejoice in God’s love and mercy as I shed the baggage of guilt, shame, and regret in the confessional.
But I’m human, so sometimes I don’t truly let things go even after I’ve received absolution. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus puts my sins as far from me as the east is from the west, and yet I pick up the baggage again, allowing it to weigh me down. Commending my past to Divine Mercy means I must drop everything at the foot of the Cross and – this is key – leave it there.
It began like most other days; I realized with great resignation that there were, as usual, many more items on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.
And then, somehow, I remembered it was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of my all-time favorite Marian celebrations.
Encouraged, I did something I hadn’t done in ages: I asked Mama Mary to grant me extra grace in my vocation because, honestly, I needed all the help I could get. It had been a rough few weeks with no relief in sight. I hoped the Blessed Mother would take pity on her overextended child and throw me a spiritual bone or 12.
Wouldn’t you know it? The Queen of Heaven and Earth heard my cry and answered in the most gentle and powerful way. Throughout the day, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering simple promptings into my heart. The most peace, joy, and satisfaction that day happened when I heeded and obeyed God’s voice.
Now I know what you’re thinking: I experienced peace and joy by listening to and — gasp — obeying God? Yes; I get it. An amazing concept, right? But as I have likely proved via previous content in this space, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into my stubborn head … until they do.
Our eldest just received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the chrism oil smeared across her teenaged forehead transported me back to when she received the same glorious-smelling oil on her bitty baby head at baptism. Incidentally, teenagers don’t tolerate their mothers huffing their sweet-smelling heads as well as infants do. Truly, truly I say to you: The days are long, yet the years are short.
Now, as a young Mom, my skin crawled whenever someone observed my spirited youngsters and felt compelled to offer this gem: “Treasure every! single! minute!” I’d force a smile and bite my tongue to keep from pelting the well-meaning stranger with a litany of grievances. Did she expect me to cherish every blow-out diaper, each sleepless night, all ear infections and colicky episodes? How about the countless tantrums and the myriad other exhausting maladies of young motherhood?
Today, comments about how full my hands are don’t irk me like they used to. When the cashier at the store is mortified that I have the audacity to mother five—FIVE!!—children and declares: “That’s too many kids!” I’m neither shocked nor angry, and I’m certainly not losing any sleep over her ridiculous opinion. Rather, I laugh heartily and ask: “Which one would you like me to take back?”
With five children in three schools, plus activities, appointments, and work, my husband and I didn’t think our lives were crazy enough. So, we bought a dog.
Not just any dog, mind you. I may be biased, but I think our Lola Rose is the cutest little puppy ever. And it’s a good thing, too. Because I know for a fact that she’s been (more or less) absolved of a myriad puppy sins based on sheer cuteness alone.
While I don’t subscribe to the “fur baby/fur Mommy” culture that’s exploded in recent years, I understand how and why hyper-attachment to furry companions is a real temptation.