A lot of things changed when Mr. JP made his grand entrance into the world in the wee hours of that November morning, but having my faith- and the way I tried to live my faith- completely change was something I was totally unprepared for. Now, I am far from a perfect Christian, but one thing that made me feel ‘on top’ of my faith life was to stick to my routine and schedule. Namely- prayer & devotions in the morning, weekly Eucharistic Adoration, daily mass a couple times a week, bible reading, rosaries, and lots of prayer time with Marcus. I tried to live my faith by helping to run a young adult ministry and staying involved in the local pro-life movement. I thrived on the predictable prayer times and manageable fellowship commitments and felt good about the ministries I was involved in. My faith life was, even amidst bumps in the roads here and there, content. I had it in a nice little box with a string tied in a bow on the top.
When my son arrived, morning prayer gave way to morning nursing sessions, with quick prayers uttered under my breath for grace. Those pleasant evenings praying and reading the bible together seemingly disappeared as we collapsed into bed, often at different times since one or the other would offer to soothe the baby to sleep. And you can definitely forget the weekly adoration and daily mass, since leaving the house now meant a screaming baby who loathed the car seat. Obviously, I gave up my responsibilities with the young adult group and felt guilty for not participating in the local 40 days for life as much as I would have liked.
In reality, my faith was probably pretty stagnant before I became a mother. I was perfectly comfortable and so systematic about it, two things your faith definitely shouldn’t be! I can also reflect and see that so much of my faith life was very inward. While getting close & personal with the Big Guy is a number one priority, we are called to bringing Jesus to others- to be fueled by our prayer life in order to be a charitable, loving light to the world. This is definitely where my life as a Christian needed challenged. I’d happily attend church, but just as easily treat a family member unkindly.
James has brought my faith to life. With little time sculpted out for intentional prayer time to tell God how much I love him, instead I can tell him how much I love Him by serving my son. As a mother, I am literally living out the gospel and the corporal acts of mercy. When I change him & dress him in the morning, I am clothing the naked. As I nurse him throughout the day, I am feeding the hungry, and when I run a hot shower in the middle of the night to steam his stuffy nose, I am taking care of the sick. It is not as impressive or as exciting as working with orphans in Africa, but it is exactly what God has called me to do. Just in becoming a mother, we have the Christ-like opportunity to lay our life down for others. Giving your body in its entirety- in order to give another life. I’ve had the privilege to suffer through morning sickness, endure the pain of childbirth, and nurse my baby despite how inconvenient, painful or frustrating it can be. Everyday I can tell God how much I need him when I surrender my baby and my motherhood to him. I can tell him how much I love Him by always putting my baby and my husband ahead of myself. I can thank Him by choosing not to complain about the hardships of being a new mama or Marcus’ crazy schedule.
Recently, I read that if you are having a good day, to thank God for it. If you are having a bad day, to invite God into it. Ordinary Day? Find God in it. These actions are the way I want to live out my faith. It will always be important to have a solid prayer life and quiet time with Jesus, but right now I know he is calling me to action. On those good days, thank God in the simplest of ways, by living a charitable life—giving time & talents in ways that work with my life as a new mama. Those days that seem really hard are nothing more than an invitation for me to ask God for perspective by focusing on somebody other than myself. Is there somebody else I can encourage or help out or lift up in prayer? Of course, the ordinary days are probably the hardest of all. It is easy to find God when you are reading the bible or attending church but I know God wanted to me to find Him in new ways. Being Christ to my husband, son, family, friends and every stranger I meet. My faith life needed to be shaken up, it needed growth. And now, everyday, I have to ask God to give me the grace to be a good wife, mother, daughter, friend and Christian. I have to make the decision to accept that grace and live out the love he gave me. It doesn’t have to be hard. It just means to imitate the cross with what is in front of you. Playing peek-a-boo instead of perusing facebook, giving time to others when you feel like you don’t have any to yourself, chopping vegetables for your mom when you hate to cook, or washing diapers instead of washing your hair ;)
We are called to holiness by living our life for others. I have always known this, always had the example of Jesus laying down His life for us, but I felt like I really had a hard time practicing it before I became a mother. ( I actually still have a hard time, of course, but I just have a baby who requires me to be selfless) And in those early weeks with James, I was convinced that with my routine prayer life down the drain, I was really failing at my faith. In actuality, my faith was just coming alive-maybe even for the first time.
Mother Theresa says “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayers is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.” These days I have to carve out quiet time to hand over my heart to God, and when I do that my faith is increased as I learn to trust. That faith and trust truly blossom into love. Confidence in God’s love for me and my love for Him. And it is only out of that love that we can serve. I don’t always feel like I am bursting at the seams with love for James, Marcus, my family, or anybody BUT my love of Christ is what can help me choose everyday to serve them. I’m human, and I am selfish and sometimes all I want to do is be by myself and stare at a wall, but that love enables me to serve in the way God is calling me right now. I fail at it a lot..as in every day! I’m after that peace though! And I’ll keep at it in this crazy new sleep deprived stage of my life! I’m convinced if we are comfortable in our faith, we probably are not growing. This has definitely been an uncomfortable stage of my life, where I have had nothing but faith to hold onto. Faith had to compensate where feelings weren’t. But that is just the way God intended it, for us to be completely relying on him, trusting Him to guide us one day at a time.
(Okay, so I’ve never done this before, but this blog post was inspired by Blue Eyed Bride's Build 'Em Up link up! The motivation to write has been missing lately, and the topics she posted were things that had already been on my heart! Go check out all the other blogs!)