Seven Quick Takes: Running, Writing & Inner Peace
I. I ran ten minutes this morning,. This doesn’t sound like much unless you know me. I lived out my youth claiming “unathletic” as part of my identity. As with many things in life, there is no such animal. My non-aerobic activity resulted from a lack of discipline and major avoidance behavior, not a lack of aptitude. No pain = no pain, right? Plus the exertion made me vulnerable; I felt like an idiot because I am not the best out there. In first grade a buck-toothed boy told me I “ran like a cow.” Those words have hung about my neck like a bell ever since.
Writing is the same way with me. I’ve always felt a call to write, but the adage that to write is to “open a vein and bleed” strikes a bit too close to a major artery for me. A.) The process hurts. I’ve stuffed a lot of pain on issues major and minor. If I unpack what I’ve buried, will I be able to get it back together again? Avoiding this inner strife is more comfortable than a psychic bleeding. Besides, there is the laundry to do. B.) Mid- stream-of-thought I stop what I’m thinking/writing, go back, and try to make it look good. Such self-consciousness is an obstacle to writing; I become focused on my own heavy foot fall, and lose my impetus to write. I might dub this my “cow bell principle.”
I will write for ten minutes today.
II. I am trying to keep peace in my heart. This is a lovely Hallmark type thought which parents, particularly mothers, more particularly homeschooling mothers, agree is a great virtue and necessary to have in order to SUCCEED in raising happy, loving, confident and unafraid children who won’t grow up to live in the basement and rage at the world. Moms must model good behavior and all of that. One can not model what she truly does not have. Hence: I am trying to keep peace in my heart.
III. Can I just say: This peace in the heart bit is hard. Such inner peace is notably absent when your children are bickering and (you think) you hear your own worse self in each one as he and she escalate their argument over whether or not to watch Babar the movie or Babar the television show on Netflix (all the more excruciating because you have a dozen acquaintances who do not even own a television, and the American Academy of Pediatrics told you how terrible for your children this t.v. watching would be; this is what you get for not listening to experts! This is what you get for getting on board with the status quo extended-family expectations!! This is what you reap now baby, when you knew better and did not stand your ground!!! ACK!!).
IV. I am sorry if I burst the bubble of any atheist who thinks faith is a mere salve, or to tarnish my image amongst the other Catholic home schooling Mommies I know, but honesty demands that I ‘fess up: Calling myself a Christian, breaking out Bible memory verses and following the liturgical seasons for craft time have not alleviated my inner insanity. I have been at this for 5 years now. I think my problem here is my reliance on externals to prove to myself as “doing this right” or “Being Super Solid” or looking like the type of mom others would want to be like. I have come to a profound realization: all of these reasons to build a Domestic Church are very messed up. There exists a better motivation.
A beautiful homily I recently heard offered this advice/reflection: remember why it is that you do what you do. Christians, at heart, should do everything from that place of loving and serving God, of responding to His invitation for relationship. What a comfort to remember! When I answered the call to dump a career and stay home, this was my motivation. That motivation, to love God so radically that I literally wanted to give everything I have back to Him, needs to be remembered at the start of every day. This isn’t a “one-time-only” deal.
V. To feed and drive you, each day needs a purpose. So in angst ridden moments, or even upon waking, I am learning to ask myself: What is my purpose in being home with my kids today? My purpose is to love and serve God, by teaching them of God’s profound and perfect love for them. In so doing, my purpose involves allowing that dying-to-self bit to actually occur within me in myriad small, sometimes painful, often profound ways. Ultimately, my purpose is learning what it really means to see Christ in another: namely, my children when they have alreay had baths, broken toys, boo-boo’s, anti-school work rebellions, snacks, lunch, and yet still return to my side after I've just sat down, because they need something more from me. My purpose in handling these moments is to recognize and embrace Him (or at least not drive the nails into His flesh again myself).
To agnostics and non-believers I again repeat: There is a lot more ripping away, and far less salving, in this process.
VI. Peace in my heart means accepting that the sufferings of those I love were not all issues which were caused by me, nor are they issues that I am responsible for erasing, curing, or putting the lid on. Misery is a human condition; we all bear some form of it. Peace in my heart means letting go of my own Messiah-complex; I am not Christ, so I can not “fix” or “heal” others, no matter how much I love them. Christ is the One who saves and redeems. With regard to my husband, my mother, my sister, my brother, and even my own children as they grow: not one needs anything so grandiose and impossible from me.
VII. Peace is accepting my place as Simon of Cyrene at the side of Jesus. Peace is allowing myself to fall and skin my knees and look like an idiot as I help those around me to shoulder their burdens (which is different than trying to take their burdens away). Peace in my heart requires that I once again surrender my desires to look cool, my ache to achieve material success like some badge of honor, my embarrassment at not being "the Best," and instead take this uphill walk: with my own family, with the Church, with Christ, with my heart embracing its purpose.
Last weekend we brought the kids to Abbey Memorial Chapel at Mount Holyoke College.
Emre and I were married here on Aug. 1, 1998.