“Mother Teresa was considered a saint because she was seen to personify an idea: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. And yet, what she did was so simple that each one of us can do it–in fact, must do it, if we are to obey the command of Christ: to feed the hungry, care for the sick, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, and quench the thirst of those who simply need a cup of water.”
“It was constant prayer that gave Mother Teresa the strength to keep going and caused her to produce such tremendous fruit. And it is prayer that must under gird all efforts to obey God, because as Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be the first to say, obedience is not always easy. In fact, without God’s help, it is impossible.”
Eric Metaxis, 7 Women and Secret of Their Greatness
I just finished this book and, as you may have guessed, I recommend it! (Thanks for the referral Carli!)
In fact, I read it while I was flying to another state to assist some of my children and grandchildren. I was so tickled to be asked to come since I always want to be appropriate support to my kids– but would it be right for me to go barging in telling them when they need me?
As I read the chapter on Mother Teresa, I kept feeling stinging tears because so much of her life is a direct parallel to most every mother I know, like you!
Three things in particular that crystallized in my mind during this reading.
When we serve our children we are serving God. Getting a picture of Mother Teresa who wanted to ‘do something beautiful for God’ going about collecting the dying, the children who had been abandoned, the uneducated, the sick and dying, the poor, is so simple, yet so stunning that it moves me in profound ways. But I ask you, how is changing the diaper of your baby or wiping a nose or bathing and soothing any child different from the holy activities of Mother Teresa and her helpers? I grant you that it can be easier in a way to care for our own, but comforting is comforting. Feeding is feeding. Listening and understanding and rocking and caring are Godly acts and no less holy in your home than on the streets of Calcutta.
But, sometimes we get off in our thinking and we get a bit proud and think that what we do isn’t as important as what others are doing. Or we may think that because we don’t get paid (Mother Teresa intentionally lived in poverty with the people she served) or thanked or praised, that somehow what we are doing day in and day out is drudgery and beneath our dignity.
Or we may get lopsided if we are waiting to hear that our efforts have pleased someone.
Serving God, which is exactly what we are doing when our motivations are true, doesn’t require us to please others. And you will save yourself much grief and heartache if you can do your best and not get pulled into a game of giving in order to receive the recognition and thanks. It doesn’t work that way.
Hopefully, those you serve will reciprocate your kindness and be appreciative, but when they don’t (because they may be clueless about what you are giving) remember your focus and whom you are truly serving.
Lastly, the life we have chosen as marriage companions and as parents creating families is not an easy one and requires all we have plus some. Prayer, as Mother Teresa knew, will ‘change the night to day’ as we are striving to fulfill our commitment to Christ and his doctrines to succor and lift and bless. Prayer is our life-line, our refuge and our strength. Please don’t try to lift and build by yourself! Ask for the divine help you need and watch the blessing flow. There is power waiting to be given, but in many instances that help is predicated upon our asking, just as my children reached out to me and asked for the support that I am over-joyed to give!
Of course there are stark differences between being a nun or a service missionary versus being a parent and a spouse. A lot! But in this one point I think we can be secure: elevate your service and your motivations and you too will do something beautiful for God. Right at home.