I don’t know exactly how it happened. Somehow, I got the strange idea in my head that being a good mom means renouncing everything that I’ve ever loved in pursuit of this one new love: caring for my five beautiful children.
On the one hand, it makes a certain degree of sense. I sacrifice time, sleep, and comforts in order to embark on the new adventure of meeting my kids’ needs and seeing them flourish. I don’t particularly love cleaning up vomit, drowning in dishes, or folding endless baskets of laundry, but I do it because I love them, and they need my love.
To be totally honest with you, though, I sometimes struggle to keep my joy as a mom. The bickering, the screaming, the mess, the worry over their welfare, the physical and emotional exhaustion—it can, at times, be just too much. I break down in tears wondering how anyone in their right mind could feel joy in the midst of all this. Throw a pandemic on top of it all, and it’s a recipe for major discouragement.
But today’s Gospel presents us with an inspiring insight. You need oil in your lamp to keep your flame alive and burning brightly. It’s the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who await the arrival of the “Bridegroom.”
When I brought my burn-out to prayer, I felt the Lord saying to me, Have you extinguished your flame? Where are all the gifts that I gave you?
I had never thought of it that way. I thought that love meant putting away all the things that I love in the service of motherhood. Offer up any drudgery as a sacrifice and maintain perfect emotional stability. (Epic fail there!) I thought that being a mom meant I had to be “serious” and “disciplined.” But what about the young woman underneath it all who loves making up silly songs on the guitar, or who enjoys journaling just for fun?
I decided to try it. I put a little bit of time into the things that I love. It was like pouring oil on a diminishing light and reigniting an inner flame. It gave me energy. It gave me joy. And then something surprising happened.
When I reignited my inner flame, the blaze of joyful energy made an impact on my family. Those kids who were bickering were all of a sudden singing my songs and dancing around with good vibes. They watched me take a few minutes to do some quiet journaling, and they got out their notebooks and started writing their own stories. (Are these the same children)?
The flame . . . it’s back again. It’s burning brightly, and they are discovering inner flames of their own.
What the world needs now more than ever is you embracing the gifts and talents that God gave uniquely to you—those long lost loves—the things that energize you and radiate a spark of joy that impacts others and gives them just a little more light today. Because one thing is certain: the world has never suffered from too much joy.
So dearest mamas, reclaim your gifts, and reclaim your joy! First in your heart, then in your home. And who knows where it will go from there! May you hear the voice of the Greatest Artist of all speak to your heart to reignite your flame.
It is I who have given you your gifts. It is I who move you to desire them. And it is I who will use them for my glory.