I was really inspired by Emily Glickman’s reflections on Philippians a couple of weeks ago. As she points out, it seems like a passage that we mommas can’t hear often enough.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:6-9).
I’ve always loved these words of St. Paul, and (when I remember) I try to use the last part of it to judge a decision — is this action just? honorable? pure? It’s a constant process to surround myself with things that fit this description, and purge from my life those that don’t.
Emily’s reminder about this beautiful passage started me thinking about what these qualities look like in my own domestic church. When I looked for them in our family recently, this was the list I came up with.
Whatever is true—peppers from the garden; homeschool math; pretty much everything the two-year-old says (like it or not!).
Whatever is honorable—standing up for what is right; defending a sibling; admitting a mistake.
Whatever is just—sharing snacks equitably; taking turns with chores; cleaning up one’s own mess.
Whatever is pure—avoiding near occasions of sin; not saying a harsh word when tempted; a freshly scrubbed toddler.
Whatever is lovely—dandelion bouquets; water color paintings of “potato people;” liturgically correct hair ribbons.
Whatever is gracious—giving up the last piece of bread; reading the toddler another book; complimenting each other.
Any excellence—violin and dance recitals; Lego creations; a spotlessly clean sink.
Anything worthy of praise—potty training; controlling temper; kindness towards siblings.
It seems like an impressive list when it’s all written out, but I know if you had asked me how family life was going, I probably would have shrugged and said something like, “Fine, I guess.” It’s when I take the time to recognize these things—when I think deeply about them, when I hold onto them—that they help me find peace in my vocation. Then I am truly, deeply grateful for the wondrous gift of watching these little people grow—the wondrous gift of motherhood.