Here’s a sobering post that stands as a challenge to all of us in ministry who have families. (I’m looking at you, my brother deacons).
This comes from the blog Blossoming Joy, by Melody Lyons, who describes herself as “homeschooling mama of 8 (plus one in the arms of Jesus). Married 19 years to Mr. Right. Every moment is Grace and my Joy is God’s Mercy. This is my place to seek His Beauty, give witness to Hope, and eat a good helping of Humble Pie.”
This post, I think, reminds us of the first call for so many of us—a call which can be easy to neglect or forget in the crush of life. It the call, quite simply, to serve our spouses and our families above all else.
They said that I should have an apostolate if I wanted my kids to grow in faith. That I should build up the kingdom. Use my skills. Be a leader. Be salt and light to the world. They said that it wasn’t enough to love my kids… that God made me for more.
They were wrong.
My family is my apostolate. My home is my headquarters. My husband my fundraiser. If God calls me to do some further outreach, it will only be that which does not leave my family unloved, uncared for, or with only the leftovers of who I am.
My apostolic works have often been excuses… distractions… ways of feeling like a productive Christian while avoiding the harder work. A way of breaking up the boredom of sacrificial work done without devotion.
I would have been a better woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and homeschooler over the last 20 years if I hadn’t bought into the idea that I needed to become some kind of minister to the world. Some moms have the gift of being high energy. I am not one of them. And I have expended myself in so many different directions and I was convinced that my outreaches and apostolic works were the moral equivalent of what I was doing at home. I now believe I was wrong.
I once printed out the words of Pope St. John Paul II to recall them in my daily work. He said:“You must never be content to leave them just the crumbs of the feast. You must take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. And you must treat them like guests at your family table.”
I fancied myself a real winner because I thought I understood his message which was to care for the poor of the world in a way that costs something. I knew what it meant to be on the receiving end of Christ-like sacrificial love and I knew the power of the mercy of Jesus and I wanted to be that for others. My problem was that I didn’t see the hypocrisy of leaving the crumbs for my own children while I fed strangers.
I didn’t see them as guests.
I didn’t see them as the poor.
I didn’t see them.
Not through the lens of Christ anyway, but only as a shallow mom.
Oh, how the narcissism of our age seeps into the cracks of our ships!