So, I attended a women’s Lenten retreat on Saturday. One of the questions our retreat facilitator asked us to think about was how we’re like our Blessed Mother and what we can change in ourselves to be even more like Mary. I wrote down that I’d like to think I am full of grace. I didn’t say graceful! That is soooo not me, just ask my kids. They are not impressed with my dance moves, for sure. I also wrote that I am patient, gentle and blessed. Very, very blessed! To be more like Mary, I need to continue working on those same qualities, especially the patience and gentleness parts. The verse from Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all,” is one I ask the Lord for help with on a daily basis.
I also had the opportunity to go to confession. Holy cow! Good thing I know how to say the Act of Contrition. The priest behind the curtain asked me to do that – right there! – as part of my penance. I haven’t had a priest do that since second grade. Anyway, what I told the priest I struggle with – like, all the time! – is being kind and gentle and patient and loving to the people closest to me – my family. I told him I need to work on being less critical and more complimentary of them.
So, what do I do less than 30 minutes from walking in the front door upon my return home Saturday afternoon? I start barking out questions and accusations:
“Why are there pancakes still sitting on the island?”
“Who cooked the eggs when we’re low on eggs already and I need to bake tomorrow?”
“Why did you try washing ALL these clothes in ONE load?”
No, “Thanks for cooking. I’m glad you made some hot food for everybody.” Or, “Thanks for starting the laundry while I was gone.” Geez, what am I worried about?….job security? Do you think I have a control issue? Get a grip, Rita. The things you just reflected on, confessed about and said you were going to work on are at hand. “Now is an acceptable time” to start. It is Lent and home is where the rubber hits the road.
The thing of it is, I’ve had this happen before. I leave for the day. Get some great soul food. Enjoy my time with other Christ-filled ladies. Drive home feeling all inspired. And then wham, nothing’s changed at home (or, more accurately, things got worse physically because I’ve been gone for 12 hours and if you want to see disaster strike in a heartbeat, come to my house).
How do I get beyond that though? How do I let all the goodness of the day change me? Spill out of me? Bless others, especially the people I care the most about? Here’s my game plan for the next time I’m feeling less than gentle:
I’m going to say to myself – and we’re talking a running repeat conversation if that’s what it takes – “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Whatever I face when I walk through that door is not going to take away from the incredible time I just had drawing closer to You. I am placing it all in your hands.”
Jesus, be with me. Help me bear my crosses, however big or small they seem at the time. Help me to be more like your Mother. I want to be more patient and gentle, especially with Marv and the kids. Help my journey this Lent be more fruitful so when Easter morning dawns, I can clearly see progress in your direction.