Such a Time as This
+JMJ+ The other afternoon, I experienced a moment of pure panic. I wasn't doing anything particularly significant, just hanging the wash on the clothesline. But the day was hot, the kids were cranky, I was feeling tired and my body was hurting (thanks to a lack of sleep due to the pain caused by the premature pelvic separation issues I have during pregnancy), and our homeschooling day had dragged on. As I hung the laundry out to dry in the hot sun, the kids started roughhousing in the kiddie pool, someone got upset over something and, for a few minutes, everything was chaotic. That's when the panic set in.
How am I going to handle four kids?
The doubt temporarily took over and question after question flooded into my head. How am I going to take care of everyone? How am I going to be a good mom? How am I going to be a good wife? How am I going to homeschool, keep the home in order, make meals, keep the kids in line, take care of a baby, nurse a baby, and change diapers? How am I going to give adequate time and attention to each child? How am I supposed to do all of this and keep my sanity? How am I supposed to....
The answer I felt in my heart was a simple one: Grace.
No one can claim to having a perfect life because, the reality is, life isn't perfect. Every calling in life comes with its challenges, with its ups and downs, with its mistakes, successes, and triumphs, and with good times and bad times. However, every life also comes with grace! Everything that God calls us to comes with His reassurance of grace – of His help, strength and love and with His reassurance that He will help us to carry each cross that comes our way.
My family's new life with a new baby is not going to be easy and it's certainly not going to be perfect. I have to accept that and, over time, I'll have to figure out which things are worthy of changing and which things are worthy of letting go.
There is so much comfort is the knowledge that none of us, no matter what our circumstances in life, will ever be thrown to the wayside. Rather, whatever life God calls us to, He will surely equip us for. The life to which we are called might not be “easier” but, so long as we are open to allowing God to live within our hearts and so long as we never stop asking for His intercession and grace, our lives will absolutely allow us to know Him better and draw us closer to Him. His grace will always sustain us.
We are not called to live in insecurity in a spiritual sense. We can be totally assured of God's love and we can be confident that He will always come to our aid. However, the reality is that our lives will never truly be "comfortable" in both the physical and spiritual sense of the word. Getting into a comfortable routine of life is something we naturally all strive for, but oftentimes God calls us out of those comfort zones in order to help us to grow and change. We may not always know what we need but God does. God calls us to trust in Him because, in Him, we have all that we need. At the moment, I am struggling to get out of my own comfort zone - there are a lot of transitions happening in my life. I can almost guarantee that a lot of us are struggling with lots of transitions right now! But with God's grace, we can embrace all the changes that have come our way and allow Him to work in us and change us for the better. Pope Benedict XVI said it best, "The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."
I've been feeling my preborn baby move recently – just the tiniest jabs and kicks – and I can't stop thinking about the bible verse from the book of Esther, "Perhaps you were born for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) There is so much uncertainty in the world and in my own life especially right now. Here I am, a busy wife, homeschooling mother, and author of a book that's being released in just a week's time (August 24th), a book that was not easy to write and one that I pray helps to change lives. I am considered a high risk pregnancy and we are living in the midst of a global pandemic. I've had many moments (such as that one while hanging laundry) when I've thought to myself, “I can't do this! How can I do all this?!”
“Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.”
God isn't going to give any of us anything that He isn't going to give us the grace to handle. On our own, we can't handle "all of this" but God will always give us the grace to sustain us even through hard times. Of that we can be certain! Something else that is certain is that every human life is a gift and every new life brings hope. This world may be full of uncertainty, darkness, doubt, despair, anger, and so much hurt but I know that the new life growing inside of me is bringing hope into this broken world.
One of the last things Pope Benedict XVI said to me at our meeting in 2008 was, “There is always hope!” I have clung to this since then! Feeling this little one's movements reminds me to hold onto hope. This child's presence reminds me that, in the midst of all the uncertainties in the world right now, we are all being called to have faith, even the tiniest bit of faith. We are being called to trust, to hope, to persevere, and to rely on God for the strength we need to get out of our comfort zones and push through whatever comes our way.
I am preparing to birth a new life (in a literal sense) early next year and right now I am "housing" that new life. However, within our minds and hearts, we are all housing something far greater than ourselves and giving birth to something greater than ourselves. In the midst of the turmoil around us, we are being called to create a peaceful place for Our Lord. We are being called out of our comfort zones in order that we may learn to rely less on ourselves and more on God.
Consider for a moment that we do not have complete understanding of what Our Lord can do for us in our lives. In this life, we will never fully understand the power of prayer and the power of putting our lives into His hands. If we did understand, I am fairly certain that we would die of joy! But just consider that for a moment. We can trust Him! That's how much we can rely on Him! God truly has got this. We are not called to live in fear. Rather, we are called to trust in our Creator even when we are terrified. We have the choice to live in fear or to ask God for the graces and strength to live courageously. No matter what challenges we may face, no matter what crosses we may carry, in Christ we find new life and, in that new life, we find our purpose here on earth. This doesn't mean that we will never experience fear – we are only human after all – but having Christ in our lives means we have someone to turn to, someone to give that fear to.
As hard as it is to wrap our minds around all the changes that have taken place within the past several months, and as confusing and scary as life may be at times, our relationship with God continues to grow if we allow it. The bigger purpose of each of our lives continues to grow. We are never in this life alone and love – Christ's love – casts out fear. To all who are fearful right now, remember that you were born for this time. “The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)