God reveals himself through the beauty of motherhood—he speaks to our hearts and draws us in, initiating a life of fulfillment and holy satisfaction. Yet, when I wake in the gray hours of a dawning Lent, those early moments of my subconscious give me away—both an awareness and a longing are revealed. I am aware of my broken sin-nature. I am aware of the messes in my family. I long for the fullest life. Instead of vibrant wholeness, I can find myself anxious and numb simultaneously. I can be discontented with serving and uncertain with fear and worry—all for the good of the souls in my domestic church.
Ash Wednesday is an invitation of the heart—an invitation to transformation within. My longing, my awareness, are a gift.
The self-sacrificial call of motherhood is meant to form the heart of beatitude within, but I must ask myself: Have I distracted myself with the pursuit of my duties of service as ends in themselves? In my fallenness, have I begun to go through the motions? Have I listened to the lies of the enemy—the lies of fear? Have I begun to pursue the outward successes of mothering whether it be good behavior, achievement, or progress? Have I forgotten to slow down in gratitude and to lose myself in the beauty of growing faces? Have I paid attention to the glimpses of God that I encounter every day through this very vocation?
This beginning of lent is an invitation to strip back the motives behind the mothering masquerade. What mother doesn’t know about sin? I know my own and my children’s wrestlings. I have apologized more times than I ever planned would be necessary. If anyone knows, my kids know that I have not outgrown my fight for holy wholeness. Lent is a beautiful reminder of where to take all of my sin and brokenness—into the desert with Christ. I am called to repent fully, to give alms within the walls of my home out of purity, and to pray for the beauty of Christ to transform. (Yes, I fully believe that beauty transforms us).
The lament of my sin is something I embrace to begin the transcendent path of transformation through Christ. The tradition of the Church and Sacred Scripture lead me down this well-worn path of repentance—of turning back to see more of God. Ashes, penance, and self-denial invite me to renew in the wonder of my mortality (we are but dust!) and to bask in the awe of the lover of my soul—Jesus, my salvation. Lent is the eternal call to uncover my hunger for God—to keep pursuing new depths of the abundant life found only in Christ’s merciful love.