When I think of a saintly mother, I picture a sweetly smiling, perfectly patient, neatly dressed lady in a well kept house with cooperative children. The family's days surely flow seamlessly from work to play, from meals to bedtime with little complaint and lots of love. For this saintly mother, with her skilled parenting and virtuous demeanor, would cultivate peaceful surroundings, well behaved, smiling children, and a beautiful life. Shouldn't this be my goal too, this beautiful life?
Surely our primary goals involve loving God and bringing this love to our families, and teaching our children to know and serve God and others. If we do these things, won't we achieve this beautiful life we imagine? How can it be then, that in our pursuit of the beautiful life, we compromise our true goals, to know, love and serve God?
We begin to serve the image; we begin to strive for the beautiful life; we begin to insist our families and our homes appear beautiful and well ordered, at least on the outside. We define our selves by our parenting style, by our educational philosophy, by the way we eat or dress, by the choices we make for our children. We decide that we do things a certain way, that we know best, that this is God's will for us, and for everyone. The image is being served.
Can it be that God permits messes and disorder? Can it be that sometimes God calls us to compromise our worthy ideals? Could it be that God may call us to sacrifice some of our well intentioned good deeds, some of our vision of beauty, some of our well crafted ideology?
The answer is yes, and it is painful and confusing. However, it is best to keep in mind that this pain and confusion stems from our disordered service of the vision, our vision of the beautiful life we believe we were called to, the vision that we have put before doing God's will.
For doing God's will may actually lead us to places, to ideas and understandings we never could imagine. God's infiniteness clashes with our finiteness. We arrange our little worlds a certain way to make sense for us, but God calls us to grow.
For it is in the messes and disorder that we demonstrate our patience and virtue, it is with pain and sickness that we reveal love and forgiveness, it is when we encounter frustrations, disappointments, conflict and embarrassments that our true character is revealed. It is during the trials of life, when we fall on our knees, that we gain wisdom and grow. This is where we meet grace. Let us turn our attentions then, away from the beautiful vision, and fix our eyes on God, wherever that may lead.