Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
I wanted to give an update today on what is happening with my mother. Over the past 18 months my mother has had two strokes and has fallen and broken her hip. She also has dementia. This once power house of a woman is now very frail. My mom has always loved the Lord with her whole heart, but she also has had a measure of self reliance that I believe God is stripping her of before she passes, whenever that may be. She must rely totally on her Savior and his Divine Providence to be cared for. As hard as it is to watch, I see it as purification, which highlights the beauty of God.
This purification is something the Lord is taking me through as well. My mom, in all her independence, basically had two wishes as she entered into this era of the Golden Years of life. The first was to “not be a burden to her children” and stay as independent as possible. The second was that her and my father stay together and not be separated. Dad wasn’t as worried about being a burden, but he definitely wants to stay with my mother until the good Lord takes them home. He referenced the movie, The Notebook, and said he would like to die together with mom holding her hand.
Obviously for mom, being independent has fallen by the wayside. One could view what has happened to her as her becoming a burden. The Lord tells me it is a gift.
Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that the way to honor that second request of my parents staying together is to have them move into my home. When my parents first moved here 4.5 years ago my husband and I offered for them to live with us by building onto the back of our house. Mom didn’t want to. Dad was fine either way. So over the past 4 years, as mom’s health and dad’s health has declined I actually ended up moving them 3 times, each move an effort to see they were cared for to the best of my ability. This will be the 4th move. And it will be into my home, we have come full circle.
I had a moment about a week ago where I didn’t know what to do. It was becoming obvious that mom’s care was so high level she needed more help. The financial situation was becoming strained. I was in tears. My husband just looked at me and said, “they need to come home here.” I was stunned. I didn’t expect that to come from him. I was so grateful. I don’t often talk about my husband here because he is such a private man, but he has grown into such a Godly man. I know this is because of the intercession of the Blessed Mother. When I stopped badgering him to be better and just prayed for him, the way Mary did for Joseph, the Lord and His Mother began a great work on both of us. If only I could always remember that and not badger him, even in the small things.
I paused to pray and the Lord told me that this time period would be short, like a pregnancy. I could treat it as unwanted and grow bitter and resentful which leads to the defilement of dignity, or I could treat it as a gift. If I chose to treat it as a gift I would live to see much joy and glory for my mom and dad. I told the Lord I wanted the gift.
We have had to find space in our home and we knew we had to keep them on the first floor. This meant clearing out our office and dining room to accommodate them. As I began the task old wounds came to the surface. In the middle of the mess of clearing everything out, God was showing me how messy my heart still is. How I have places he wants to heal deeply and purify from the lies of the enemy. And how moving forward I must live in the present moment with Him, allowing Him to clean out my heart.
The office was filled with things I had purchased to try to better educate my children, but failed to follow through with. The demons pummeled me with “you’re a bad mother.” I was faced with all the ways I wanted to raise intellectuals, religious intellectuals, but had let the culture infiltrate my home. My kids won’t go to Princeton, and they don’t have the catechism memorized. They’re not the geniuses I had envisioned back then, nor are they clamoring to join seminary or religious life. I had lacked discipline and follow through. The Lord had me look at it. Hand my shame to him, and told me he had great plans for my children and Princeton was never part of His plan. He told me to let go in a more deep way of the worldly intellectualism and reliance on self so that he could mold my whole family into true virtue, which can be done even without memorization of the catechism. He told me memorization doesn’t equal conversion of heart. He said what the world views as failure he turns to gift, if only I hand my shame to Him. He told me I have no idea the plans He has, and to just trust.
As I disassembled the dining room table, again, the surge of shame came over me. I have never been a good cook. The demons pummeled me, “you’re a failure as a wife, you didn’t teach your family healthy eating.” This has been a deep source of shame. To know what is good for you and feel so overwhelmed at the thought of completing the task of revamping a diet and learning to cook that you don’t even try. If our bodies are a temple, I have made the temple unclean. The Lord told me to hand him my shame. That my body is His temple and He can rebuild it on His timeline. He showed me the resurrection of the body in all it’s glory. His glory. He makes all things new.
As I continued through the house, to all of the places we had to rearrange, I was confronted with wound after wound, some sinful, some just places where judgment of myself was so harsh. And like staring at the serpent on the staff, the Lord brought healing to wound after wound. The Lord told me he was walking me through this because he cannot purify those things which we refuse to look at. He is pulling up the root of the weed that is trying to strangle the wheat. We must stare at the source of our shame, pride, despair, anxiety. If we do not He cannot heal because we have not invited Him in. The confidence in God grows deeper with each wound we hand to Him.
On Thursday morning, as I looked at the empty office and dining room turned sitting room, I had a giant surge of anxiety. I thought “I can’t do this.” I yelled at my husband to help me with my parents who aren’t even in my house yet. He put up his hand as if to say, “whatever is happening in your head, work that out with God and then come talk to me.”
I left and went to Mass. The Lord told me, you can’t do this by yourself, but you can do this because I have sent help. He told me I will be amazed at how he raises up my husband and family to help. He wants to restore the Blessings of the Father. He told me all those years I have prayed for unity in the church, both domestic and universal, that he will show me unity in my own domestic church. He asked me to step into radical trust and to stop my own self reliance.
I know there are many of you who undergoing hard personal storms, ones that are much harder than I am experiencing. The Lord is purifying and asking for trust.
While the world is set in turmoil, the Lord asks me to view it as a hard labor to birth true beauty. I believe he will illuminate our souls as part of our purification. The plan is to make us immaculate. A people with purity of heart. A people who stop judging each other and really love each other. A people who recognize sin and want no part of it. A people in whom the Immaculate Heart can triumph.
I realized as I am writing this piece that today is the day I was baptized, 49 years ago. It is my birthday into the church. This Lenten season, may God continue to purify me and you so that we become living sanctuaries of love. Pray for me as I venture out into the deep with my mom and dad, and I will pray for all of you. May the Lord Bless you and keep you.
Mom and Dad just before her fall