When we mothers see our children suffering, the slip off the cliffs of despair can be easy. When Pope Francis tells us, “Let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God” (April 7, 2013), the trust doesn’t exactly overflow. Mercy would be nice, Lord; how about a cure please. But we are commanded to love the Lord our God from Genesis to Revelation. How do we do that when our beloved children suffer? How do we work up warm feelings for the great I Am, Who could fix things but does not? How did Mary do it? Love loves. The abstract noun actively verbs. God’s love gave the world Jesus and He told us that whoever keeps His commandments loves God (John 14:2), warm feelings or not. And I have found that thinking about Jesus does indeed touch me deeply with plenty of loving warmth.
What are God’s commandments we are to obey? Jesus Himself told us to ~
Pray (Matthew 6:9)
Forgive (Matthew 18:21-22)
Humble ourselves (Matthew 23:11-12)
Shine (Matthew 5: 14-16)
Believe (John 14:1)
Commit (Matthew 16: 24-26)
Stay Close (John 15:4)
So we do it. We obey the best we can when our kids are suffering and when we are suffering with them. Heaven is real. Jesus is real.
Focusing on Jesus can reach into our wounded souls and soften us to love God, even kindling those elusive warm feelings for the God Who made us and loved us first. My sadness (or anger or indifference) toward God melts into His love if I take time to contemplate Jesus in a crucifix, a painting, or film. He is strong, beautiful, and loving. “Because He Himself has been tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18).
We are commanded to love, to do what lovers of God should, even if our lot in life includes suffering children. But we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit that leads our aching, angry motherly hearts to lovingly obey (It’s the first fruit.); we have Church sacraments imparting real graces; we have the communion of saints offering personal prayers with us and for us if we just can’t. Since the Church calls us to aid the human condition (CCC 1928-1948), others will come alongside us. And we have Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (and our children’s). When we look at Him, we can do it. We can love God with our obedience, even in maternal heartbreak. Just like Mary.
To soothe some hurts ~
Allison is a 40-something mother of seven, living in Alaska, accepted into the Church (together with her husband, thank God) in 2004. She spends her days homeschooling and packaging meat that her menfolk hunt and bring home. She cannot garden to save her life but picks wild blueberries like a champ. She has been published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul and keeps a blog at www.northerncffamily.blogspot.com, writing about living out the Faith with children with cystic fibrosis.