“A Grain of Wheat”

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I have such a hard time with my sin, sometimes… Not necessarily “wrestling” with it, because I often don’t get that far. It’s more “identifying” it. Prideful, you say? Yes. Much pride. The roots of justification and avoidance of blame run so deeply in me that I get into so much chaos and trouble from it. I don’t want to be in this darkness, and I think I’m learning (ever so slowly) to be able to examine my conscience better than three years ago when I converted. I mean, just recognizing that I have THIS problem is progress…I think. Reading “True Devotion to Mary” (SUCH a good read!) is really helping me right now, and I wanted to share some parts that pierced my heart. It began with a verse.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.  John 12:24

We must die to ourselves like the wheat that falls into the earth. We don’t just die, but we die to bear fruit. And this isn’t talking about literal death as I always thought as a child, but rather “dying to yourself.” That’s a heavy bit right there, wouldn’t you say? But it goes on to say:

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”John 12:25

So we have to die to ourselves, and we have to hate our life. I’ve always had these verses thrown around since I was a little girl by those around me, but I’m not sure I ever really took them into understanding. I think I always thought, “if you enjoy your life, you don’t truly hate it.”

But these verses recently came into the light for me, and some of that darkness of justification was pulled back a little bit. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life… Focusing on that first part of the verse, I realized that I love my life too much. I love my WILL. I have so much self love.  I have PRIDE. I love my pride. So when really thinking about this verse the other day, the part that says, “He who loves his life” looks in my life like “love of my will/pride.”

When I try to have good fruit… When I try to be virtuous, it is tainted by my loving of my life! It’s not enough to just try to be good. To try to be virtuous! I mean, I can do that all day long, but then, I might go on my merry way thinking, “I’m so glad I’ve sacrificed such and such to help so and so, they really need ME.” and my unselfish acts turn into selfish acts! We all know people like that, don’t we… I don’t want to be that way! How horrible that I’ve often let the good work that God could have done through me, for others, and for my own sanctification turn into something evil and tainted!

Are there any FRIENDS lovers out there? Non fans, feel free to skip this paragraph! Do you remember that episode where Phoebe is trying to do an unselfish good deed but can’t find one? Everything she does, Joey tells her is ultimately selfish because she feels good about it. She rakes a lawn, and gets “force fed” cider and cookies! She donates money, and it gets her friend on TV, and it finally progresses to a point where she lets a bee sting her…a ludicrous idea, to try to do something really unselfish. The problem that Phoebe faced was not in the act itself as she and Joey thought… It was in her heart and attitude. Obviously, the six characters on FRIENDS are depraved and have no thoughts whatsoever of living a life for God. But if they did, well, Phoebe might have realized that her pride was getting in the way of fulfilling an unselfish deed. To truly be selfless, we must live for God, and do all unto Him, knowing that we are nothing!

I have to recognize that my sin (in the form of pride and self love/vanity) is getting in the way, and then I have to release it. Easier said than done… In fact, these are realizations I have to actually REMIND myself of multiple times a day, so that I can try to let go of the pride and grab on to humility.

I want to die to myself and live for God. I want to be used by Him and only for Him, and through Him. I want to live in virtue and let it pour out to others. But to do that, I have to hate my life. I have to hate what it is and has been: My Pride. My Will. My Desire. I have to let it become a life of humility and obedience.

What does this look like, practically… It looks like patience with my husband. It looks like respect and gratitude for all that he does, and not expectation that he must do more. It looks like letting him live his life and not trying to control all the parts of it because I might “do it better.” What pride to think that I should have that kind of power… It looks like obedience to do all of those things when it’s really hard.

Let me be a grain of wheat. Nothing on my own. Let me be small, and insignificant. Let me die and be sown. Let humility water me and obedience direct me into the light of the Lord.

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A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 21)

I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve done one of these (February!) so bear with me!

Family News

I suppose the biggest news around here is that Daniel graduated with his Masters in May! I can’t believe we are finally through the school phase. I think we are both a bit shell shocked. It was a lovely weekend, filled with friendly faces, and good times. Eliot giggled about halfway through the graduation, but hey, an over two hour ceremony with no crying? Yes please!

  
The next biggest news is that Eliot walks! I struggle to keep shoes on him, but I’m slowly coming to terms with it as long as he has socks on. He enjoys making the old ladies at church ooh and ah over his new found ability. 

  
Sorry, super grainy photo… Daniel and I are in a battle of the lights pretty constantly in the evenings. He likes very little light and I get grumpy and start to show age because I can’t see anything. We also still disagree over the temperature of our home, so the war rages on. *shrugs*

Eliot’s other milestones and developments include high fives, head butting, upside baby (he tips his head way back) and a never ending love of peekaboo. He’s also fascinated with eyes and we have to work pretty hard to keep him from poking ours when we lay down with him. He has gotten very attached to one of his stuffed animals that we named Softy Kitty, and he does this adorable squishy hug with Softy and squeals with delight when he sees him. Softy has a really long tail so he uses it to drag Softy around wherever he goes but he sometimes gets tangled up and then screams in anger. Eliot has also decided that drinks are fair game, and no matter what it is, he shrieks at us to give him a sip. I’m impressed that he handles regular cups so well!

   
   
The mothers group at church has continued on, but I haven’t been able to attend in a while, so I’m looking forward to trying to make that work again. I did sign up to take a meal to our small group leader who just had her second child. I signed up through mealtrain.com and I think it’s a wonderful internet service! It even gives you meal train etiquette so you don’t end up with well meaning but exhausting people staying at your house forever as they drop off a meal. 

Becoming a Better Reader

I’m still reading a lot, and my energy is now focused on True Devotion to Mary by Louis De Montfort which is wonderful! It going to be one of those repeat reads because it’s jam packed.

Liturgical Living

We celebrated St. Joan’s day with our traditional monte cristos and I also made French onion soup. It was delicious. We prayed a litany and then we ate, and Eliot enjoyed all the food. It was a great feast day that reminded us how much we want to get back to feasting with the saints!

   
 That’s all I have today. There have been some great links that I would love to share, but I’m typing on my phone (whenever I get the computer out, Eliot tries to get the cord) and I really find it difficult to share links from the phone… Anyway, I hope you all are well and wishing you the peace of Christ!

The Stampede

I’ve been thinking about judgement in the realm of motherhood as of late. A variety of mothers have conversed with me about the judgement heaped upon them by others and sometimes even themselves. Countless people in recent years have fought to end the “mommy wars” and while it seems that there might be more of a handle on it, judgement still remains… 

That being said, I’m not of the thought process that “you just do whatever and it’s all good” when it comes to parenting, because I don’t think that is good in any other area of your life either. It’s lazy and lukewarm, and promotes stagnant behavior. A level of judgement needs to be about us in all aspects of our life! But pertaining to parenting, we cannot afford to mistreat our child or neglect them. Honestly, those are pretty fundamental morals that most people are capable of judging without too much reflection or time lost. What takes time and is MORE necessary as a mother is discernment. We discern in all aspects of our life too. A priest once explained discernment to me as the weighing not of a good thing and a bad thing (that is judgement) but rather two good things weighed against each other. But judging–that is the contrast between a good thing and a bad thing… 

Speaking as a mama, it is easy to get caught up in the judgement stampede of motherhood! That is because we try to make motherhood a perfect science and think we can be righteously angry if anyone disagrees with “the method!” Motherhood is not a formula, but we often try to make it one. What is good for one mama and child is not always good for another mama and child. We forget that fact because we invest our deep, vulnerable, personal parts into motherhood and we feel the necessity to protect and defend our choices. We often do that the wrong way, by attacking opposite choices and not recognizing the difference between judgement and discernment. We all do it, too. Co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping. Breastfeeding vs. Bottle feeding. Baby led weaning vs. Guided weaning. Does motherhood really call for constant judgement? Are any of those choices ultimately BAD, or morally wrong? Can we objectively say that no baby and mama will benefit from any of those choices or that all babies will respond the same way? Maybe motherhood calls for more discernment and less judgement. 

For that to happen, we have to stop demonizing good things and accept that there is no formula to motherhood and there will never be one. After all, they don’t send you with a manual for the baby you take home! Only after that recognition will we see that we are gauging two good things instead of a good thing and a bad thing, thus discerning where we once judged. 

We feel guilty because we aren’t doing things the way that Sally down the street does them, but instead of comparing Sally’s way as good and our way as bad, maybe we could begin to see them as two good options, and then discerning which option best suits our family! 

We feel angry because Susie said she did not like the method we use for feeding, but maybe instead of judging our way as right and Susie’s way as wrong, we could see that Susie also has a right way of doing things and has discerned that our way does not work for her family (but is still a valid, good option). 

I know this is just another mom reflecting on the mommy war culture, but maybe if the culture could begin to tell the difference between discerning and judging, there would be less judgement. Let’s discern, validate, and love, through one set of mother and child(ren) at a time.