I stood in darkness with rain pouring down. Lightening flashed, but I hardly cared. I shivered in our backyard and looked in to the warm, bright bedroom my husband and I shared. Only now, he was in there alone texting someone. I watched him watch tv. I saw him casually get up, walk to the adjacent bathroom, and come back brushing his teeth while again checking his phone and watching whatever show was on.
Lightening flashed again and I shrank from the window, afraid of what the man I loved would think if he saw his wife and her drowned-rat appearance standing in the backyard looking in on our family home. I needn’t have worried. He nonchalantly strolled back into the bathroom, spit, picked up his phone, and climbed into bed – our bed.
I was shivering and needed to get warm and dry. I couldn’t get sick and risk the little life growing inside of me. He had already been through a lot with intense morning sickness and home IVs, and yet, I didn’t leave. Instead, I fell to my knees in still the new construction dirt/grass mix of our side yard and cried out to God.
Why me Lord???
Why am I unlovable?
What is wrong with me?
Why am I not good enough?
I gave birth to our fifth little boy just a few months after that awful night.
Many, many countless dark days and long, sleepless nights later, and I’d still cry out those same questions to my Father seeking answers He seemed to never deliver.
And yet, I was determined to give that little baby boy the best upbringing I could. I would shower him with love and be sure he knew how special he was, is, and always will be.
I did the best I could, but there are so many times I short-changed that little guy and his four older brothers too. Exhaustion, fear, worthlessness, confusion, overwhelm, and, yes, self pity and anger played havoc with my heart and mind.
I don’t think I will ever look at a pregnant woman and not feel the wounds of being left alone at such a vulnerable time. I don’t think I will ever see her happily planning for her precious little one without re-experiencing the pain of knowing I never got to be the mom I wanted to be for my children. My heart hurts for them, the childhood they were robbed of, and the mother they needed but that I never delivered them.
Oh the failure I feel at times!!! Why me Lord?
Parenting Lessons from 1 Thessalonians 2
We are supposed to pray over the Sunday Mass readings before going to Church. I know that now but still rarely get around to it. I love being Catholic, but there are a tremendous number of ways our Lord gives us to know, love, and serve Him! Mass is commanded. It is on the altar, in persona Christi, that our priests re-enact the Last Supper and where Christ’s power turns simple bread and wine into Divine Body and Blood.
It is that union with Christ’s Heart that draws me to Mass, but beyond that, God gives us so many other ways to honor and glorify, adore and LOVE Him. We have Sacramentals, things like the Miraculous Medal, Rosary beads, scapulars, and relics. We have a multitude of prayers, such as the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love, Novenas, beautiful litanies like the Litany of Humility, Litany of Trust, and Litany of Love, and of course the Rosary! We have devotions, like the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to one which is touching my heart recently, the Holy Face of Jesus. We have life changing consecrations to Jesus through Saint Joseph and My Mary. We have studies on the Bible, the Catechism, and the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors, and of course, we have the Sacraments, which are vital to eternal Catholic life in Heaven.
Every time I think I have learned of all there is in the Catholic faith, I find there is so much more I do not know! What richness the Lord has given us! What variety He allows in our Worship of Him and Him alone!
I used to get frustrated for not “finishing” every devotion He offers us. Then I realized that some are mandated like Sunday Mass, yearly Confession, and a daily Rosary, but most are given as gifts. They allow us to see our Lord in different lights and glorious facets. They turn us toward Him the way we might turn a diamond to see it sparkle differently. It is not the diamond that changes, but how we see it. God is much the same and our varying devotions, while not mandated, help us see his radiant beauty more clearly!
That is a long way of saying, “I did not pre-read this Sunday’s readings and was unprepared for the way 1 Thessalonians 2: 7-9, 13 touched my heart!”
I opened our missal and read quietly what the lector read aloud.
Brothers and sisters:
We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.
Oh my heart!
Gentle among you.
A nursing mother.
Cares for her children.
With such affection.
We were determined to share with you.
The Gospel, or Good News, of God.
So dearly beloved had you become to us.
Each word touched me. Each verse slowly said and rolled around on my tongue brought tears to my eyes. This was the mother I had wanted to be for my boys. This is the mother I will never be for them.
No second chances. No do-overs. One shot to get it all right.
My God. My God. Why me Lord???
The reading continued.
You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
This is the mother I fear I had been. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Alone. Trying to hide it all from the kids. Failing miserably and showing them suffering they were not ready for and should never have had to shoulder at such a young age or at any age.
I longed to be the mother I’d hoped to be and now it was too late.
I continued reading.
And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.
In toil and drudgery working day and night…for that we give thanks? Knowing I had not been the mom I wanted to be? Am I still to give thanks to God unceasingly in my failures?
After Mass, I looked up the rest of the reading. The snippet we got at Mass was actually the middle portion. It begins…
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our reception among you was not without effect. Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated, as you know, in Philippi, we drew courage through our God to speak to you the gospel of God with much struggle.
Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives, nor did it work through deception.
But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts.
Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know, or with a pretext for greed—God is witness—nor did we seek praise from human beings, either from you or from others, although we were able to impose our weight as apostles of Christ.
The bigger picture makes things more clear. It’s amazing how much God knows that we do not!
The Apostles suffered. They were rejected, as was Christ. They suffered and were insolently treated, and then we see a shift.
They drew courage through our God.
Their struggle did not end, but they held their heads high. They spoke not from delusion or impure motives. They did not work through deception. They did not appear with flattering speech, with pretext for greed, nor in seeking praise from human beings.
I thought of my own single parenting.
I failed to do this at times, but I succeeded, with struggle and courage through our God, to bite my tongue at times too. I sacrificed my desire to be loved and wanted and my quest for righteous vengeance more often than is humanly possible.
I could be grateful to God for much!
The Blessing of Single Parenting
What most jumped out at me though was verse four:
But as we were judged worthy* by God to be entrusted with the gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts.
What if single mothers see abandonment, divorce, and single parenting, not as a curse that leaves you crying to God in the stormy darkness, but as a blessing? What if you choose to see hardships as a judgement, not of your worthlessness, but of your worth? What if God, who sees what is in your heart, sees what is in your heart and in your ex’s heart and allows the breakup because He, God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, the One Who Gives Life and Who Takes it Away, the Almighty and Ever Powerful, the One Who is Love Himself judges you as worthy of raising these children to adulthood? What if He knows you can handle things your husband cannot? What if He knows trials can draw you closer to Him and that He Loves your heart so much, He wants you there holding His Face in your hands and laying your ear to His chest where His Divine Heart beats for all humanity and especially for beautiful, lovable, worthy YOU?
What if, where you are today, is not because of your worthlessness or because God isn’t answering your prayers, but because He has and He judges you as worthy in a way only God can using His discernment of genuinely selfless attitudes and actions?
Why Me Lord?
We often look at what is directly in front of us. We cannot see the big picture the way God does. We get caught up in perfectionism and see our failings. We read parts of the lives people want to share on social media and assume life “should be” a certain way and then despair at why it is not that way for us. We read snippets of the Bible and think we have the answers.
None of us really knows much of anything. Instead, what we are asked to do is simply the best we can and trust in God for the rest.
Looking back now, I can see all my husband gave up for the life he desired. It still cuts deeply to know I chose someone who would cause such suffering and doubt in our children, but I also know no matter how perfect my husband had the chance to become, I would never be the mother I hoped to be. I’d set unattainable goals and tried to be perfect in my own right.
Today, in hindsight, I look back and thank God for all He has done in my life. I see errors I made in dating, in Marriage, and in parenting. It does not make me bitter although it does still make me sad sometimes.
What I feel most of all though is tremendous gratitude and Grace. I see now, I still need to cry out, “Why me Lord?” but this time it is with amazement for I know I am saved and Loved and judged worthy.
Why am I so chosen, so worthy, so Loved?
It is a totally different, reframed in Truth, kind of “Why Me, Lord?”
I know all the mistakes and failings I made are things my children can choose to look up to the Lord and ask, “Why me Lord? or they can choose to walk away from Him and try to attain perfection on their own. While the gravity of this threatens to crush me, I also know the beauty of His answer if they choose to seek it, and I refuse to live in a past I cannot change when there is so much hope for the future.
Today reading the entire passage, I hear God’s Voice softly speaking to my soul…
“Why you, my child? You because I see your heart, and I judge you worthy.”
Do you hear Him too?
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