Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Hidden Vocation

First of all, before I forget, please say some prayers for me tomorrow, that the CT scan goes well, that I don't need surgery, and that Sister Nugget deals with her (thankfully brief!) stint with the bottle well.

(Before you read my post today, hop on over and check out Auntie Leila's thoughts today because they go hand in hand with what's on my mind.)

I've been thinking lately, thinking about the nature of my vocation. It isn't a coincidence that this blog bears the name it does. It was well thought out. But the farther along I go, the more surprised I am by the similarities between at home motherhood and the monastic life.

I am not in the place that I once thought I would be. I was incredibly ambitious as I was growing up. I was always busy, always doing so much - and the things I was doing, all that I was achieving, were quantifiable things. My grades were phenomenal, my extra-curriculars were outstanding, and every teacher and professor raved about me, right on up through grad school. I was regarded highly by many, and it was thought that I would probably do great things.



I know that sounds prideful, right? If it makes you feel better, I didn't exactly feel all that secure about myself in the midst of that.

But then, God called me to a more humble, hidden life. This started practically the minute I became a mother (or at least, before I took the pregnancy test). From the beginning of my first pregnancy, I struggled physically in one way or another, and that quickly morphed into full-blown HG - a trend that continued in my second pregnancy. HG, and later post-partum depression, both robbed me of my ability to do things so perfectly.

But those are more drastic examples. This hiddeness became a reality for me in a much more common way, too. This way is a way that every mother in the history of motherhood is all too familiar with. There are so many things a mother does, day in and day out, that receive no recognition.



I could enumerate some of those things here, but I think every mom reading this blog knows exactly what sorts of things I'm referring to. There are so many things that go entirely unnoticed in the eyes of the world, things for which no mother will ever receive any accolades. In many ways, motherhood is an altogether misunderstood vocation, much in the same way the monastic life is.

Most people "get" the vocation of those in active religious orders. They understand why someone would devote their lives to doing good out in the world, to doing ministry and mission work. Monastic life is wasted life from our modern day perspective. I mean, come on...what exactly do monastics do all day? Pray? Work? Rest a little? What's the point? They could be contributing more outside of the monastery, right?

The same is thought of a mother (whether she is at home full time or works outside of the home, as well). Why is she investing so much time and energy into her children and home life? Yes, it's good to have children, I guess...but aren't those children holding her back in some way? Could she get a job, or work more hours at a job she has? What about her contribution to society?

In some ways, what the monastic does is an even bigger job that what the active religious does. The work of prayer - and the spiritual warfare and day-to-day mundaneness that goes with a life of full-time prayer - is hard. It is hard in the way that can only be understood by a monastic. I know that I can't even fully grasp how difficult a life that is - albeit, joyful - but I intuit it on some level. There must be so many things done, so many things offered up and prayers said that go unnoticed. There must be so many saints in monastic orders whose sanctity will never be recognized by the world. BUT those who say yes to the monastic vocation don't do so to become canonized saints widely recognized by the world. If that happens, praise God. But if they enter the monastery for those reasons, they will quickly grow discouraged. Rather, they enter the monastery to love God and to pray. Yes, they want to be saints, but they know they must come to accept living a hidden life, seen only by God.

And so it is with the domestic monastery.


On two occasions in the Gospel of Luke, we are told that Mary "treasured all these things in her heart." Mary, as a mother, models for us what contemplative motherhood looks like. There are many, many hidden moments that we have to be content with no one but God seeing. There are many things we'll never be thanked for, many acts we'll never be praised for. Whether we choose not to work outside of the home or choose not to work those extra hours outside of the home that could advance our career, we are choosing to content ourselves with being misunderstood by the world.

And that is hard. If your vocation is motherhood, this is something you will likely struggle with your whole life. Motherhood is a way to holiness, true, but it is not an easy way. It is a narrow way.

But, oh, my dear friends...it is precisely that reason that opens up mothers to grace. One who walks the way of the cross knows that she cannot do it alone. She is much in need of God.

Take heart, dear, fellow mothers. What is hidden from the world is not hidden from God. And what you do matters immensely in His sight.

1 comment:

  1. Everything you said here resonates with me, especially the part about wanting recognition for everything I do around the house and with the kids. I'm working on that, you know, like you said, I'll probably struggle with that my whole life. It was harder in the beginning (my oldest is 11 years old), now the need for recognition comes in sporadic waves for no particular reason or because some article I read or comment I get from someone, triggers it. You've said it beautifully!!

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget