What Makes Saint Patrick Different & How You Can be Too!

Saint Patrick - green cloverHappy Saint Patrick’s Day! As an Irish woman, the day has special significance for me. I’ll wear my green sweater and green beaded necklace, my light up earrings and shamrock barrettes. My children will laugh and roll their eyes as they so often do, and my students will find it a little harder to concentrate today.

Tonight we’ll feast on corned beef and cabbage, carrots and red potatoes, and we’ll sit around the table laughing and arguing, teasing and cracking jokes, and it will be loud as any Irish home with lots of children to love can be.

The four younger boys wake to green candy and green beaded necklaces lit up by mini green lights at each of the their breakfast spots.

My oldest is at college but can’t be left out! I put together the greenest care package you can imagine: green candy, a “Keep Calm & Shamrock On” mug wrapped in green dishcloths, mini green lights, window clings and shamrocks, slave-free chocolates, enough green beaded necklaces for him and plenty to give away, and of course two small loaves of homemade Irish soda bread.

His package should have arrived by the 15th, plenty of time for Saint Patrick’s Day, and yet…I’ve tracked it from New York to New Jersey back to New York and now it is being rerouted and forwarded to an alternative address – whatever that means!

With him coming home tomorrow ( 🙂 ) for Easter break, the package will miss Saint Patrick’s Day and sit somewhere waiting for his return. I don’t know what my son will do with that much green now, but I’ve been thinking about the package, the roundabout route it’s taking, and the reality of Saint Patrick and his journey which reaches far beyond plastic beaded necklaces and mini green lights.

Saint Patrick’s Three Choices

We’ve mistaken Saint Patrick’s Day as just a day to party in green clothing, eat corned beef and cabbage, and of course, drink green beer! We wear cheap plastic necklaces and light up earrings, look for mischievous leprechauns, and make wishes on rainbows for pretend pots of gold, but Saint Patrick’s reality was very different.

Saint Patrick was the son of a wealthy man, expecting to live a life of luxury, but this was not the case. At 16, Patrick was captured in one of his father’s ships and taken to Ireland as a slave where he remained for six years.

It must have been a very dark and dreary time for Patrick. He was used to the good life but was now disrespected, unappreciated, and unloved by those near him. (Sound familiar?) Any good he had done before was insignificant. The people he had counted on were no longer helpful. He was often cold, a cold that reached to the bone, and hungry, a hunger that reached beyond something to fill his growling belly.

Many people would have understandably succumbed to anger, bitterness, depression, hopelessness, or even monotony, but Patrick was different, and six years after his capture, he escaped. That much would have been a tale in itself, but Patrick’s story doesn’t end there.

The darkness of his time in Ireland brought Patrick to his knees and emptied him of what he’d thought valuable. One can only imagine this frightened boy of 16 being sold on the auction block, separated from loved ones, and given a hard, painful future he was not prepared to face alone.

Stripped of all he had held dear, Patrick was left with the same three choices:

  1. get angry succumbing to that justified negativity,
  2. plod through the monotony, head down, never looking for an out and just wait to die,
  3. hand it all over to the Lord seeking His warm Light and the Bread He offers starving souls.

Chains of Divorce & Seeking Comfort in the Wrong Places

What made Patrick special was not his chasing snakes from Ireland or his use of the shamrock to show the Trinity as three in one. Saint Patrick was special because he used his circumstances to strengthen himself and then go beyond to bring faith to millions of Irish when human thought would say he should have turned his back on them.

Although being physically enslaved is incomparable, there are parallels to Saint Patrick’s story and any real hardship, and divorce carries its chains too. For example, when one partner walks away, the loyal spouse is still chained to a given location unable to seek better housing or job opportunities in a distant market or even closer to the family she left for her husband. This most often hurts women and children, the groups that were supposed to be helped by divorce and women’s lib.

There are many concrete impositions demanded of a faithful spouse during divorce, but what most threatens to enslave the divorced are their own negative thoughts and the memories of shattered dreams they are chained to.

Divorce is a darkness, a time of broken promises, shattered dreams, hyper self-criticism, and intense questioning of self-worth. Many will, at least temporarily, succumb to anger and/or bitterness.

This may be especially compounded for a stay at home parent. When suddenly abandoned, she wanders in darkness while also needing to figure out how to feed and shelter children. She experiences a cold that creeps into the heart and starves the soul and experiences a need to fill that hole somehow. That wandering sometimes results in seeking comfort in the wrong places.

Many will assume this seeking comfort means in the arms of a lover, but, as harmful as that is, it is far worse when a damaged soul turns away from the Church and from God seeking Bread from buffet style, pick-and-choose-your-faith splinter groups and anti-God government resources.

Three Choices of the Divorced & Abandoned:

There are parallels to Saint Patrick and the lives of many of the abandoned, divorced, and even abused. Over the last several years, since beginning Single Mom Smiling, I’ve had several women, and a few men too, share their stories with me (All stories remain confidential unless the teller wishes to share).

I am constantly awed by these people, heartbroken and hurting, abandoned by those they most loved and trusted, victimized by a system that decides fair means rewarding an immoral parent with partial custody and a large portion of family income, and looked down on by a society that promotes promiscuity, infidelity, and divorce while snubbing noses at the plight of the broken, left behinds.

I am constantly amazed by men and women who get up day after day and refuse to accept enslavement caused by pain instead seeking to find good again. These faithful spouses greet children with smiles and wave good-bye cheerfully hiding tears for children’s sake. They are strong and sacrificial.

They are loyal spouses abandoned by divorce still working to find Joy in every day and even in every circumstance. These people laugh. At first laughter is forced and comes from knowing their children are watching, but then they grow to understand that laughter, like Love, is both contagious and learn-able. They discover it becomes more natural and more heartfelt with each opportunity it is practiced.

These people get up in the morning and go to jobs, scraping a living reflective of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and they work to determine whether their Marriage was valid or not before beginning a new relationship. They make the difficult choice to stick with their vows when those vows are valid or to move on being open to God’s plan for them to Love again or to remain single when the vows are found to be not.

So many things I could go on about, but one thing I know for sure…

When Saint Patrick was captured he must have wanted to return to his former life. He spent six hard years of enslavement missing his family and the comforts he had grown accustomed to. He longed for Love and respect, and probably for someone to laugh with at the end of the day.

Does this all sound familiar in the life the divorced?

But Patrick also wouldn’t have traded the faith he discovered in his time of darkness. He began a slave of the Irish people but ended a slave to the Lord. He may not have chosen his route, but he accepted it and became an inspirational figure to many.

Saint Patrick’s pain made him who he was meant to be.

In the six and a half years since my husband left suddenly, I’ve spoken to many people left behind by someone they loved, and I’ve found they ultimately have the same three paths Saint Patrick had to take:

  1. get angry succumbing to that justified negativity,
  2. plod through the monotony, head down, never looking for an out and just wait to die,
  3. hand it all over to the Lord seeking His warm Light and the Bread He offers starving souls.

Many will sell out, curse the Lord and abandon their Savior. They will continue to have negative thoughts, anger, bitterness, distrust. This includes many of those seeking divorce who will find they are angry and unhappy even years later as they continue to point fingers and refuse to accept responsibility. They will not be healed only because they fight to retain control.

Some will sink slowly into monotony, seeking safety in aloneness rather than the risk of heartbreak and humiliation. They may or may not engage in relationships, but these encounters are shallow and provide no lasting bond. They turn into themselves and will  not be healed because the refuse to trust again.

But others will stumble and fall and rise again and again and again. They will cry out to the Lord on bad days but dust themselves off and look for the rainbow. They will be healed because they are willing to give all they have, to be totally honest with the Healer and to allow Him into their hearts.

What Happens Next?

Honestly, I don’t have a clue! Each of us has our own journeys, our own paths to take. Each of us is a special package making a roundabout trip either to our Savior or away from Him.

But I do know that in all my conversations with other divorced people, I have yet to see one regret turning to the Lord. I have yet to see one who has cried out for Grace and not been given Hope.

Yes, there are days of pain and anguish, doubt and fear, but every single person I’ve met online or in person who has turned to the Lord repeatedly has had his or her faith strengthened by the experience. Every single person I’ve met who has not given up on the Lord has been rewarded in ways he or she could not have been had they not gone through such a traumatic experience, and none, though they still may mourn spouses, would trade the faith they discovered for the spouse who walked away.

I for one know I would never go back. I would never trade shallowness of a man who would turn his back on his family for the depth of the Man who hung on the Cross for me, for the Man who returns daily to take my hand, to carry me across the sand when my burdens are too great and my footsteps fail, or who saved me from Hell and promises eternal life.

I do not regret what happened to me, although my heart still hurts for my children and I wish for more for myself one day. My pain, my experiences, my memories made me who I am and brought me one step closer to who I was meant to be. I am now thankful to have been gifted with the hardships I’ve faced and know there is more to that attitude than Irish luck!

The greatest lesson we can take from Saint Patrick is not about green beer and leprechauns but about continuously turning to the Lord in our struggles and using our pain to be inspire others, especially our children!

You may be painfully enslaved now, but through God you can be set free. If you are struggling with negativity and questioning your faith, keep crying out to the Lord. Never give up! Pour your heart out to Him, but don’t do it despairingly. Expect Him to rescue you too. Like with Saint Patrick, you Savior will provide your escape, most likely in a way and time you least expect it. Never give up.

God Bless…

And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!

SUBSCRIBE to Single Mom Smiling’s monthly newsletter.

Follow on Bloglovin  to catch every post!

Me sitting peacefully, happily on the back steps! I now offer life coaching for women who want MORE! Join me at The Right Path Life Coaching for your unique plan to more! (TRPLifeCoaching.com)
Looking for someone who’s “been there” to help you discover The Right Path for You? I now do women’s life coaching – empowering women to discover their more. (TRPLifeCoaching.com) Click for details & God Bless…

2 thoughts on “What Makes Saint Patrick Different & How You Can be Too!”

  1. As soon as I realized what day it was today, I immediately thought of St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer. It’s a beautiful prayer if you’ve never seen it. You should be able to Google it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    1. Thanks Manny! I just Googled Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer . I’d known part of it but never realized there was even more to it – kinda sounds like a lot of what I know about my Catholic faith! There’s always more to it than I ever suspected! Thanks for commenting and suggesting this!

      This is the Part I’d known before…it’s one of my favorite prayers.

      Christ be with me, Christ within me,
      Christ behind me, Christ before me,
      Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
      Christ to comfort and restore me.
      Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
      Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
      Christ in hearts of all that love me,
      Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

      God Bless…

Comments are closed.