I need to ask you something…Have you ever lost your patience with your child? Been quick to anger? Disciplined out of frustration? I have. I have been on the verge of tears, frustrated with a toddler who wants to do it himself but is taking so long that the baby is now crying for his demands to be met, listening to the dryer buzz in the background and smelling dinner burning in the oven. In the heat of the moment, I lose it. I yank the crayon out of Joseph’s hand and write the letter “s” myself, I plop William down on the floor (even though he’s screaming to br held) while I try to save dinner and pull out the clothes before they’re too wrinkled, all the while muttering to myself about the unfairness of it all. When Joseph asks for help again, I tell him, none too politely, “Not now. Mommy’s trying to fix dinner. Find something else to do.” And when William comes toddling in yanking at my pant leg mumbling “meh me meh” I shoo him away. Not much selfless love being exhibited here…or is there?
Last week Fr. James gave a moving homily about the call of Christians to love with unconditional love. He said that “anyone who wants to live true Christianity is called to live selflessly.” Selfless love? That’s hard to find today. Me, me, me. More, more, more. That seems to be the echoing chant of Americans today. So when Fr. James reminded us of Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 34-35), I began to reflect on my daily life as a mother and wife. Do I live by Jesus’ words? Do I portray a selfless love? Perhaps at times. But I realized something even more profound. As a mother, I am given the unique opportunity to witness first hand the best example here on Earth of selfless love. I am given a glimpse of unconditional love on a daily basis. I see Jesus’ words reflected through the love of a child for his parents.
So back to my chaotic kitchen…where was the selfless love in all of that, you might be wondering. It sure wasn’t with me. But go check on Joseph. See if he has already forgiven me because he has. Ask him who he loves to snuggle, who he loves to read with, who he loves to be with and I guarantee he’ll say his mommy even though he was just on the receiving end of frustration and anger. Go ahead. Now pick up William and see who he desperately reaches for. Me. He, too, has already forgiven me. He, too, is displaying an unconditional love.
If I would just stop long enough to watch my children, and I mean really watch them, I could learn so much. Sure I set an example everyday for them to follow but it appears that I, too, have an example set before me that could lead me to holiness.
Fr. James says, “The tendencies of fallen human nature pull us into ourselves. This is why we need a daily encounter with the God of unconditional love hidden in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church.” Absolutely. That daily encounter is our saving grace. But for those of us mommies in the trenches, sometimes daily mass or adoration are not a possibility. We need a daily reminder of what unconditional love looks like. And, as with all of our true needs, God has provided…just so long as we pay attention.