Recently, in prayer, the Lord showed me an image that I had recently seen in an email titled Lord, Thy Will Be Done by Philip Hermogenes Calderon. It is of a woman with a baby in her arms, surrounded by all the tasks of her day (the mending, the tidying, the baking), all of which can bring anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. Except, the woman’s face was full of peace, for her eyes were set looking straight forward, fixated on her Lord. The One Who knows her the most. The One Who knows the demands of her vocation and the present moment. The One who is able to carry the load with her, to unite His yoke to hers.
Now I’ll ask you to visualize another woman. A wife and mother with three young children all three and under. Surrounded by her to do list of cleaning up magnetic tiles, playdoh messes, and crumbs, folding laundry, meal prepping - all very ordinary, mundane tasks. Tasks that had started to creep in on her peace, taking away joy in the little moments of answering the call of her daughter, teaching her son how to throw a ball, and nurse her baby. Tasks that had started to feel very heavy and insignificant. Tasks that had started to fuel perfectionism and anxiety.
That was me, two years ago. I was struggling with postpartum anxiety and keeping up with the demands of the season. I felt isolated and depleted. On one hard day, praise be to God, the Holy Spirit prompted me to head to our parish’s Adoration chapel. As soon as my husband walked in the door, on the verge of tears, I told him “I’m leaving to see Jesus. I’ll be back later.”
I drove in silence, using the stillness to quiet my mind and heart. Asking Jesus to come and transform me to be more like Him, to make this not as heavy. I told Him this vocation of marriage and motherhood is all I’ve ever prayed for and felt guilty for the fog of ungratefulness and bitterness. The enemy had come into my mind and released lies that brought wounds of insecurity, pride, and vanity to the surface. I prayed for deliverance and freedom.
I walked up to the chapel doors and keyed in the code. Red light. I tried again, red light again. I grabbed my phone and quickly went to the parish website to search for the code. I didn’t have the wrong number. Then I remembered, the sound system in the church was being replaced and they had made an announcement that the church would be closed. Now the tears from earlier turned into cries and my heart sunk in disappointment. I turned around to head back to my van and saw the sun shining down on the grotto.
I heard Jesus tell me, “come and be still.” I walked over to the grotto of Our Lady of Fatima and sat on the bench. I closed my eyes and wept, telling our Blessed Mother all that was going on, asking her to be a mother to me and bring my intentions to her loving Son. When I opened my eyes, I noticed the sun shining brightly through the trees and onto Our Lady. The Spirit whispered that Jesus is this light. And his light always outshines the darkness of anxiety and overwhelm. I felt His embrace through the warmth of the sun on my skin, reminding me that His love conquers all things and that I had been given a spirit of power, love, and sound mind through Him. This is the moment that the Litany for Motherhood was brought to my heart. I wrote down line after line sitting in the peace of that moment. Praise be to God!
That day at the grotto is forever stitched in my heart. That day I received the grace of patience, docility and perseverance to run the race, not by being self-reliant or prideful, but through a deep surrender and humility.
Sitting in front of Our Lady, hands open, crying out in desperation, she brought me to her Son. Jesus came to my aid and filled me with His Truth and Spirit. As St. Angela Merici said, “He who called you will not desert you, but the moment you are in need he will stretch out his saving hand.”
Jesus calls us in relationship with him, to lean on Him, depend on Him, and abide in Him.
It is only through the hidden moments of our vocations, of giving cheerfully when you just want to sit down for a cup of coffee after fixing breakfast for everyone, finding joy in seeing your baby take her first wobbly steps, living holy in the present: free from comparison and discouragement and full of humility, gratitude, and peace, that the Lord comes and showers you with an abundance of grace.
It is only in the hidden moments of seeking Him amidst the joys, the interruptions, the accidents, the tantrums, the laughter, the sacrifices, that our hearts are transformed to serve and perform our duties with great love for the Lord and the ones he has blessed us with.
It is only with our eyes gazed on Jesus that we can, as St. Francis de Sales said, “pass through every storm safely”, trusting that He is faithful and good, that he makes us capable, because He is capable.
Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur said she desired to live only for God, to generously do all she could in service and above all to abandon herself entirely to his will. May we learn from her witness to give the Lord glory through all the moments and praise Him for all that, He in His goodness, sends us.