I crumble to the floor by the side of my bed. The room is dark. I’m on my knees, but the only prayers that come are just hot tears that I can no longer hold back. I am exhausted—each day this week, every direction I turn, my children are hurting, or straying, or wandering seemingly hellbent. I just want this to all come together without so many heartaches, so many flaws. Their heartaches. Their flaws. My heartaches. My flaws. Alone in the dark, on a Friday night, in the quiet, I feel the dam break.
I cry out . . . “God, of all the things . . . I want to get this right . . . I want to be a good mom.”
The honest questions are haunting, and I continue to cry and lay bare. “Am I failing you, God? Am I failing my children?”
I have no tears left, and the Holy Spirit washes over me with the words of today’s first reading. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart. With this knowledge, the deep affection melts the insecurity and the knowing of God himself reverberates through my spirit.
The Scripture goes on to say, A prophet to the nations I appointed you. He not only knows me, but he also formed the very purpose I have been given.
How does this reading inform my expectations of getting my purpose right? I sit still with the hard questions. What is successful Catholic motherhood? What is so mighty when I am staring at an influx of broken hearts, failures, and flaws?
Without the lens of the Gospel, it is easy to slip into my own sinful predilection—of seeing my motherhood with expectations of my own making. I expect that if I am earnestly following God, living out a Catholic life both culturally and morally, then I can expect the prosperity of perfectly behaved children and steady ease, all replete with spotless resumes for both me and the children alike.
But vocation is fundamentally different from reaching fast-held goals and carrying out my program of ideal achievement. The call to vocation is about continuing to discover the seed—the truth of my identity, that has been placed within me from the foundations of the world. It is about uncovering the seed of his grace within motherhood, about moving deeper into the truth of growing ever more like Christ—of being a conduit of grace.
In the dim light of my bedroom, I listen to the song play through my earbuds . . .
Like a seed in the snow, I’ve been buried to grow. For your promise is loyal—From seed to sequoia
I lean into the promise that being a conduit of grace is a mighty call, because it is the Mighty One who is growing seeds into sequoias. As I listen to the music, he picks me up and tells me that my tears break his heart, that he loves me. Then he reminds me that because he loves me so much, he is asking me to be a part of his far-reaching plan.