I broke down in tears this morning. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it was just hormones. Maybe it was the fact that the toddler ransacked the pantry and dumped cereal in every single room of the house. Maybe it was that I’m just so tired of the scatterbrained existence of “online learning” for my kids, who have never in their lives used computers, and have no idea what to do. Maybe it was the fact that my children know exactly how to push each other’s buttons all afternoon, and there’s nowhere I can take them. Or maybe it’s because my introverted self just can’t seem to get a moment alone.
Christ says to us in today’s Gospel, “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). It’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. But where is that abundant life right now? I seem to be surrounded by what I can’t have. I can’t invite friends over for dinner. I can’t find what I need at the store. I can’t take my energetic little crew to a playground where they can get their wiggles out, while I share my heart with a friend. I can’t even receive the Eucharist.
As the tears rolled down my cheeks, my sweet husband handed me the keys and told me to pick up something really chocolaty for myself at a drive-through while he watches our crazy crew at home. Does he know my heart or what! As I relished the time alone to regroup in my messy van, I realized something.
The “abundant” life that Christ has promised is already here! Because he’s been here all along. God is constantly giving me sweet tokens of his love—a loving gesture from my husband, the toothless smile of my six-year-old, the sweet, “I love you, mom” notes that my daughter leaves by my bedside, my baby’s beautiful curls. God is constantly filling my life with abundance. The difference is whether or not I’m paying attention to his gifts and receiving that love.
I have always loved St. Augustine’s Confessions. Looking back at his life, Augustine realized that God’s gifts and his grace work through people and events. He says of his own infancy, “It was not my mother nor my nurses who nursed me, but you who gave me food in my infancy through them.” Looking back on his mother nursing him, he realized that her love was the first touch of God. The outpouring of God’s abundance was always there, but his real joy came when he acknowledged and received it.
So yes, there are days when motherhood makes me want to hide in the closet and eat dark chocolate. But I also know that I can shift my focus from the moments of frustration to the whispers of his love that the ever-present God is constantly lavishing upon me. It is then that grace pierces the darkness of my soul, and I know with joy just how deeply I am loved.
At the end of my life, what I hope for most of all is that I can pass on to my children a love and devotion to the God of Infinite Abundance—the God who hates disease, scarcity, suffering, and death—and who gave his life to destroy these evils forever. I hope that long after I am gone, they will say to him, “This is what she gave us. She knew that you are the God of Infinite Abundance, and she knew that you loved her.”