Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not losing, but giving.

I can't exactly remember the context in which this topic came up at Mom's group yesterday, but I'm glad it did.  One of my mommy friends mentioned something about me probably having to give up a little more of my life or expectations every time another kid was born. I think we were talking about how society at large views motherhood and how it's not as valued in popular culture as it really should be.  The way my friend posed this idea to me reminded of me of something my husband and I had been talking about a long while back.

Some time after we got married I had mentioned to my husband the idea of a person "losing their virginity" and my husband ever so wisely corrected me by introducing the truth that in marriage virginity isn't lost, it's given.  Wife gives herself to husband, husband gives himself to wife.  Of course I knew this already, but I hadn't thought of it in terms of losing versus giving.

The same goes for when we have kids, or anytime we sacrifice of ourselves for another's benefit.  We don't lose part of ourselves, part of our lifestyle, part of our *insert whatever here* if this act of sacrifice is done in love.

Some may say I have lost my ability to go out whenever I want.  I have lost my ability to travel.  I have lost my carefree lifestyle.  I have lost my free time.  I have lost time with friends.  I have lost sleep.

It's true.  I have thought about things this way.  But now I've come to realize that I haven't really lost them.  I've been giving these things to my family.  I'm making these small sacrifices because I want to do what's best for my family.  I want them to be healthy and I want them to get to heaven.  I find solace in thinking about these sacrifices as gifts.  I think that if I continued to believe I was losing all of this, I'd become more and more upset or frustrated with every kid.

When I lose something I am irritated and upset.  Something has happened that is out of my control.  Losing something is an unfortunate circumstance.

When you give a gift, you are happy to share.  I know that I get excited when I am giving a gift to someone.  The anticipation kills me because I want so much to see the other person pleased with whatever I have to give them.  Giving is a choice.

When we enter into loving relationships we're not losing out, we're not throwing everything out the window in a begrudging manner.  I think Christ is calling us to give ourselves as a gift.  Sure it can be a terribly difficult sacrifice, but if it's a gift, we're called to give with joy right?

After all, Christ's death on the cross was a terrible sacrifice, but he did it freely as a gift for us right?

You have probably all thought of this already, but sometimes ideas click in my head in new and subtle ways and I like to share.

God Bless.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Travel bug vs. ultimate destination

In the wake of World Youth Day I found myself reminiscing about the good ol' days when I could just work, save up money, and travel all over the world.  I realized as well how incredibly fortunate I am to have been able to travel to as many places as I have.  Now that I'm a mom, I sometimes feel like the opportunities to travel and see the wonders of the world are slipping through my fingers never to return.  I have this fear that I'll never see the fantastic places that I drool over on Pinterest before I die. One of my friend's t-shirt's proclaims FOMO.  "Fear of missing out."  I totally have this fear.  I would love to go back to Paris, go see Barcelona and Greece, walk the camino, take Jon to Rome with me and spend more time in Assisi, go to the next World Youth Day in Poland, etc, etc, etc.  God created such a wonderful world full of beauty didn't he?

Two weeks ago I was privileged to give a talk at my parish about my travels in Calcutta.  While it was a pleasure to reminisce and impart the wisdom of Mother Teresa and my travel experiences and lessons to other parishoners, I found that one of the last "travel lessons" in my talk gave me pause.

The night before I left Calcutta I truly felt like I was going to die.  My poor asthmatic lungs were just giving way to the pollution and I literally gasped for breath the entire night.  If you don't believe me, ask Annie.  I spent the whole night having a minor near death experience and praying the Act of Contrition over and over until I think I passed out for a couple of hours.  I honestly thought I would die that night in that crazy, dingy, rooftop hostel room on Sudder Street.  I mention this experience because it was while praying the act of contrition over and over that I realized what was most important.  It was my relationship with Christ.   Priority #1!  I was praying the act of contrition because I was sorry for everything I had done wrong and I really, really, really, wanted to see Jesus on the flip side if I died.

What does this have to do with travel?

Well, I think that sometimes I forget about priorities.  Are you with me?  We all do this don't we?  While travel, material goods, excitement, and rich experiences are fun, they aren't the main goal.  They aren't our final destination.  So should we feel like we're missing out if we're concentrating on priority #1?

Priority #1 for me right now entails changing diapers, being a supportive wife, not complaining all the time, being nice to my children, trying to teach my children about God, trying to teach my kids the alphabet, making dinner, cleaning high chairs, doing laundry, wiping poop off bums, and everything else being a stay at home mom entails.

Priority #1's details are definitely not as exciting as swimming in the mediterranean sea or hiking in the mountains of Spain.  I have always known in my head that the "unforgettably exciting life experiences" shouldn't be made into an idol, but I suppose I never thought about what lies in heaven on a grand scale in comparison to them.  I never imagined that all the wonderful places on earth will pale in comparison to heaven and being in the presence of God.  I never imagined that I would still probably be able to see every place on earth while in heaven anyways.

This silly popular phrase "YOLO" keeps getting thrown around.  "You only live once!"  But really, if we have priority #1 in our sights, living once will mean living forever won't it?  So I guess what I'm getting at is, while it's fun and sometimes good to chase after excitement and rich experiences, don't let those experiences get in the way of priority #1.  Because ultimately, our relationship with Christ will get us the most unbelievable, all-inclusive, all expenses paid, never ending vacation we've ever had.  If we have priority #2 in order, we might even be able to take all our friends and family with us!

Won't it be amazing?