When being Saint Mom seems impossible, I turn to Jesus with a simple question: “Who do you say that I am?”
by Becky Arganbright
It had been another tough day filled with the typical stuff that happens when you have kids. Arguments. Disorganization. Lost homework. Poorly planned supper. Grumpy kids and a tired husband.
I had been doing the best that I could, holding my tongue, trying to say all the right things, when I finally had to just let it all out: Why don’t you put your homework away instead of leaving it on the floor where it might have gotten thrown away?! I thought I told you to put your toys away?! Why don’t you come when I call you?! No, for the hundredth time, I don’t know what’s for supper!
The mom who I would love to be
The person who I want to be is so far from the person I am. The mom who I would love to be is meek and hardly ever gets upset. She doesn’t get frazzled over arguing children or a messy house. She lives by example rather than by words. She never raises her voice or lectures.
It doesn’t help that everywhere I go, some well-meaning person is telling me that we are called to be saints. This is usually followed with: YOU are called to be a saint! My response is like realizing there is a test due that I haven’t studied for—and only an “A” is going to save me from failing the course. How can I be a saint if I am not holy? How can I be holy when I can hardly be civil? How is this even feasible, Lord??
Who am I to You, Lord?
One night, as I lay in bed, mulling over it all, I thought of the question Jesus posed to his apostles after hearing all the speculation of the crowds: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). And then came the answer that, in spite of all his faults, made Peter shine: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (16:17).
Now I found myself turning the question back to Jesus: “And you, Lord: Who do You say that I am?”
Over the next few days and weeks, when I found myself getting overwhelmed, I would automatically ask again, “Who do You say that I am, Lord?” And for some reason that I still can’t explain, this simple question would calm me down.
Maybe because deep down inside, I go to the roots of all that I tend to be whether I like it or not. And God, being my Creator, tells me who I am all the time.
When I find myself struggling with patience, He tells me, “You are capable of becoming patient.”
When I want to fly off the handle at something, He tells me, “You are capable of practicing meekness.”
And when I feel like I can’t be nice, He tells me, “You are capable of showing love.”
The pressure is off
When I ask God, “Who do You say that I am?”, He tells me all that I am not—but also what I could be become. He tells me what I am capable of, even though I think that I’m not. He shows me that if only I would let go of all my plans and high expectations of myself, He could make me the “impossible” saint he made me to be. As Theresa of Avila says, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” In other words, God can do anything.
Motherhood is hard enough without the added pressure of trying to be perfect. I will never be perfect because I am a sinner, full or flaws and weaknesses. God didn’t set me in my vocation as a wife and mother because He thought I would be good at it. No, He put me here because He thought it would help me grow in holiness—which will work only if I use the opportunities for holiness.
Months later, when I need a realty check or feel the need to get grounded—or if I just need a boost of encouragement from another day of failures, I still ask God, “Who do You say I am, Lord?”
And yes, He tells me who I am, and what I can be, and suddenly, I realize that it is possible to do all that God has set out for me to do. It is possible that God can do much with me! Crooked little line though I may be.