Recently, I attended a monthly diocesan women’s night where women from the area are invited to listen to a speaker on a topic related to our Catholic faith, as well as have a chance for confession and Eucharistic adoration. It is a wonderfully enriching time!
On this particular night, Father Prentice Tipton spoke to our group on the topic of Jesus and the Baptism of the Lord, and specifically the the moment when God speaks to Jesus saying, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). When the Father said this to Jesus, it grounded Jesus. His identity was not wrapped up in how men viewed him, but in the love of His Father. His relationship with God and his identity as His Beloved Son came before ministry to others, and certainly took priority over the accolades of man. This carried him at every point of His ministry, both when crowds gathered to see him, and when the crowds called for His death on the Cross.
Just as Jesus found relationship and identity in the Father’s love for Him, we must also find the same validation through God the Father, Fr. Tipton went on to share. We must believe that we are the beloved children of God and that He is well pleased with us too.
As God’s creation, He is pleased with what He has made. We did not have to earn that. We have His eternal Love regardless of our actions or self-perception. Whether we stay home with our children, work outside the home, get a PhD, are homeless, wealthy, a criminal, or a saint on Earth, we are loved by God. Certainly our actions impact whether we attain heaven– but those are choices we make, not measures of our Father’s love for us.
But how many of us truly rest in that fact? Satan would have us believe that we are never going to be worthy of God’s love; even that Heaven is unattainable entirely. Satan would have us believe that the whisperings of disapproval from others is the measure of our worth.
We need to instead trust God when He sends the message to us that we are loved and only need to follow Him and rest in Him to have a relationship and identity rooted in Him that gives us peace. It was this peace that pulled Mother Teresa through when she went through spiritual darkness. Even when she didn’t think she could hear God speaking to her, she knew her value was that of God’s daughter, doing His work. She might not have had constant exuberant joy, but she had peace in her role as God’s beloved daughter.
Fr. Tipton closed his talk by asking of us, “Do you know who you are in the Father’s eyes?”
And so I ask of you, do you?
As mothers we are drawn, by the nature of our vocation, to sacrifice for our children. We sacrifice our bodies in pregnancy and nursing, and in sheer physical exertion in caring for kids and keeping them safe. We sacrifice our sleep when our children wake at night. We sacrifice our selfish desires in those times where we comfort our crying child rather than taking that long shower we yearn for. We sacrifice our time when we play with PlayDoh with our child instead of reading a book we were interested in. We even sacrifice spiritual practices when we walk a crying baby in the narthex during Mass, missing the readings and homily. Some mothers had careers they sacrifice to stay at home. Other mothers have to work to help their family financially. We often sacrifice to the point of feeling exhausted and drained.
All this sacrifice is very sanctifying. It prepares us for heaven by allowing us to infect our selfish urges with a spirit of giving. It forces us to use our God-given abilities to help others, often without a second thought.
But much of the time, those tiny people never say thank you. That stranger at the grocery store gives you a thorough disgruntled once over with any number of reasons for their disapproval. Your extended family members tell you how you should parent your children. Moms at the playground give unwelcome advice or admonition about a perceived trouble, or brag about their child’s advancements in light of your child’s average skills.
Are you rattled when this happens? Rest in the Father’s love. You are doing His work. You do not raise your children the best you can so as to please your children, neighbor, spouse, friends, or family members. You are raising your children up because it is God’s will for you to do so. It is too easy to allow Satan to work in you with your doubts about your mothering when you experience the disapproval of others. All this sacrifice isn’t about them or for them. And your worth does not rest in them.
Focus on God. He is the One who laid out this vocation for you, and who gives this hard road to you in order that you may become sanctified and able to enter His Kingdom. He is calling out to you as his beloved child, and He is well pleased with you.
Do you know who you are in the Father’s eyes?