More often than not, my morning prayer consists of: “Lord, please don’t make me go out there.” But in light of Pope Francis’s wise words about families, maybe we should try a different kind of morning offering.
by Becky Arganbright
Every night as I’m falling asleep, I resolve to say the Morning Offering when I wake up—a habit that I’ve been trying to establish for a long time now. But more often than not, my morning prayer is more along the lines of: “Lord, please don’t make me go out there.”
Don’t make me go out there and settle fights before my head has even cleared.
Don’t make me go out there to make breakfast in three different ways to satisfy picky eaters.
Don’t make me go out there and find lost homework, make sure school lunches have been packed, push kids to eat their breakfast a little faster, and get them out the door to the bus on time—all with a smile on my face.
Please Lord, don’t make me go out there.
When I was a kid, I had this crazy plan. I wanted to be a missionary . . . but I also wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to have children—ten of them, all adopted—but I didn’t want to be married. What to do? So I changed my plan to be a missionary who lived in a camper going place to place to preach the Gospel, with ten children, ten dogs, and ten cats.
My dream did not turn out as I planned, but I did get the big family I wanted. I do not live in a camper (thank goodness) and I do not have ten dogs and ten cats (again, thank you, Lord!). I have found in the life that I’m living that there’s still lots of opportunities to do everything I had dreamed of doing right in the circle of my own family—and more. And for the most part, I am happy with my life.
But there are “those days” when I wake up in the morning and say: “Please, God. Don’t make me go out there. I can’t do it today. I am too tired. Too grumpy. I love my kids, but they take it all out of me. I love my husband but I can’t be his support today. I can’t love the way You want me to love.”
Then I look in my closet and find something to wear from a wardrobe that hasn’t been updated since having my last baby. I look in the mirror and remind myself that I still need to get a haircut, except that the haircut went to one of the kids instead. What I really want to do is crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. The last thing I feel like doing is serving my family.
But then, I turn on my computer and find this awesome Pope Francis quote being passed around: “It is true that living in family is not always easy, and can often be painful and stressful; but, as I have often said referring to the Church, I prefer a wounded family that makes daily efforts to put love into play, to a society that is sick from isolationism and habitually afraid of love. I prefer a family that makes repeated efforts to begin again, to a society that is narcissistic and obsessed with luxury and comfort. I prefer a family with tired faces from generous giving, to faces with makeup that know nothing of tenderness and compassion.”
Suddenly, I feel like two arms from heaven have reached down and lifted me up. Yes, I can do this today! Yes, it is worth it to do “the extras,” to give as much as I’ve got. Life can be messy sometimes and my own mistakes certainly adds to the mess. But somehow Pope’s Francis’s observation of a “real” and hard-working family makes it worth the effort. Somehow, his words make a mundane stay-at-home mom’s job feel glorious.
I put on my frumpy clothes, and set out to make my kids some yucky breakfast.
Family life is not easy. But I’ve never had more opportunities to practice love and sacrifice than I have within my own family. I’ve never had so many opportunities to give up something so someone else can have something better, or be tired in the morning so a sick child wasn’t alone at night. I’ve always had the opportunity to look a little less in style, so that my kids can wear something new. And I didn’t mind giving up the money I had been saving for a new couch to buy my kids a trampoline so that they would get off of the computer.
Family life can be rough; it can wear you down to tears. But it is worth it. It is worth the hard work, prayers and tears to see your family thrive under the hand of God. He makes all things possible.
Thank you, Pope Francis, for the inspiration. Tomorrow morning (maybe, hopefully), I will wake up and pray:
“Go out there with me today, Lord; give me the grace to give generously, to love tenderly, and to serve Your children with compassion.”