Saturday, July 09, 2005

God & Me

I went to school during the early '60's. The sisters who taught me were a missionary order with convents in what was then known as "French Indochina." They had close ties to Europe as well--the novitiate was in Ireland; the "Motherhouse" was in France. So the threat that Communism would take over the country was, to them, very, very real.

They taught us about the saints who refused to renounce their faith and were killed. They challenged us: would we do the same? Of course we would! We, who had barely begun our lives, would eagerly give it up for the love of God and Jesus Christ! They were serious and we were sincere.

Much happened to the world over the next few years. I was in fifth grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. Vatican II was coming to a close and the Latin we had so painstakingly learned was being replaced by English. The French had long since left Indochina, now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Sister began getting us ready for Confirmation.

Two things were all important: memorizing all the questions and answers to the "Baltimore Catechism" so we would be ready to counter any arguments from non-believers and choosing our patron saint. I read a biography of St. Therese of Liseaux and chose her.

What attracted me most was her idea of "The Little Way." She had wanted to be a missionary, but her poor health kept her cloistered. So she made everything she did--washing the dishes, gardening, sweeping the kitchen--a prayer. Once she even scooped a spider into a teacup and released it outside rather than kill it, even though she was afraid of spiders. This idea appealed to my 12-y.o. self. This was something I could do. But I still wanted to show God my love for Him in a Big Way.

Fast forward many, many years. I am now a wife and a mother. I have all the daily bumps and grinds and joys of middle-class life found in the suburbs of a big city. Which means every time I think we have a little bit of money to do something fun, something major breaks: one of the cars or the washing machine or the oven. Or tuition is due. Or an opportunity presents itself for one of the kids that should be taken advantage of. The train runs late; I've left the lights on in the car and the battery is dead; somebody needs something for a school project NOW.

Suddenly, St. Therese's "Little Way" is more difficult than I thought.

My relationship with God is a lot like Tevye's in "Fiddler On The Roof." I talk back, I plead, I complain, I whine. Finally, I surrender. At least until the next battle. I realize that this is the lot God has given me: to keep the Faith through the drudgery of every day life. To keep the focus on Christ and "What Would Jesus Do?" on the train, on the freeway, in my relationships with my husband and my family.

"This is NOT what I signed on for!" I yell. "This is NOT what I wanted!" No, but this life is what God wants for me.

I try to remember that when I pick up the dirty socks for the thousandth time. When DD#2 brings home yet another deficiency because she didn't have her homework done. When DS#1 drops out of a college class too late to get a refund because he didn't like the teacher or the grade he was getting. When I make dinner and no one likes it and they all complain, "What did you make THAT for?!" When the computer doesn't work or the driver next to me won't let me merge when my lane is ending or the checker at the grocery store is slower than molasses in January.

My lot--so far--has not been to endure major faith-shaking events but rather the little, everyday, "papercut" annoyances. I may have enough faith to move a mountain, but God wants me to move the beach. Not as dramatic, but some days just as hard.