At the end of a long, tiring day, it is a struggle to sit back and think about how much I love my children. It’s not uppermost in my mind. I am writing this sitting on my bed at the end of such a day. I have not cleaned up the kitchen from dinner (not even lunch for that matter), and there is a basket of dirty laundry next to me. This is a day when everyone suffered from coughs, and one child was at the doctor with an ear infection. Dinner was warmed-up chicken nuggets. The TV was on a good part of the day, rotting my children’s brains. All I can think about is a big glass of wine and making the most of the time I have before the morning comes. And by making the most of my time, I mean partaking of that big glass of wine I mentioned, watching a mindless TV show, and maybe munching a bag of Oreos. Having love at the end of a day like that is not easy.
Upon confessing this to a priest recently in the sacrament of reconciliation, he reassured me by saying that, “Yes, it is not easy,” and that, “It is okay that I am struggling with the challenges in my life.” He gave me a verse to reflect on in this struggle: Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What? Be perfect?! At first those words did not make sense to me for my situation. Of course, God is perfect, but how can I compare to that? I’m only human. The priest told me I should think of it as God loving me all the time despite my flaws. His love for me is unconditional and perfect, just as I am called to love others in my life (including my very imperfect children). In fact, I remembered another priest who once told a friend of mine that the verse can be translated, “Be perfect in merciful love just as your heavenly Father is perfect in merciful love.” So I must be merciful in my loving, just as God is merciful to me. At the end of a hard day, I need to keep loving my children when they whine, my husband when he forgets to take out the trash, and my neighbors down the street when their dogs bark annoyingly. If I can practice merciful love to others through their flaws, then my love is perfect, and there is no better way to practice this than through marriage and motherhood.