Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people

Feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people.

This was a description of another , homeschooling, busy mother.

But it resonated. I thought it could be a description of me.

Last night I thought on these things.

I feel called to be a wife, mother, worker, teacher, volunteer, friend, helper, listener, group leader, mentor, writer, a Pollyanna...AND to be good at these things, to the best of my ability..because of love..love of others, love for my family and friends, love for the Church, love of Our Lord.....I feel called to be who I am but ten times more..and all the while I feel called to be this to many people..to help people, to do what they want me to do, to be who they want me to be.

In short, I seem to have a need to be everything to everyone.

It takes a lot for me to say no, to say I can't. And then I either feel guilty or I spend ages justifying and rationalising to myself, why I just can't do something.

Mostly, I am pleased to do the things I do. As I said, I do them with love. And that is what makes a difference ( to paraphrase St Teresa of Avila).

But is there a twinge of the Nice Girl Syndrome?

For the purpose of this book, let's say there's a difference between being nice and too nice, a workout so off the charts that it actually gives nice a bad name. So that we're all on the same page, let's assume it's okay to be a sweetheart and an earth mother as long as you have the ability to turn off those traits and bring in the big guns ..when you need 'em. Nice Girls Finish Fat

Sometimes I am too nice. And sometimes, I am too b***y.

So, I am not truly a Nice Girl.

But I do try to do-it-all, to be helpful, to do good things and (sometimes) to do things that I should say no to..Why? Is it because I am truly Nice ( I doubt it, most people who know me would not say I am Nice!). Is it because I need to be liked ( Well, I like being liked but experience has shown me that there will always be, has always been, are always, others who won't/don't like me whatever I do).

Part of me tries to be everything and do everything because of a refrain of a series of quotes . a refrain that runs through my mind...We cannot go to heaven in featherbeds (St Thomas More) and..A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves (Mother Theresa)...and something a holy priest once said to me, when I talked about a particular intention as a mother..Pray and do penance.

And this is not a bad thing.

...as members of the Body of Christ in union with the innocent Christ crucified, we can offer our innocent sufferings and acts of self-denial and prayer ..Our prayers and sacrifices, offered in penance, become sacramental, not simply isolated events that have nothing to do with the common good. Whether the sinner repents or not is not within your power to determine or make happen. That is between him and God. But whether you make an offering of your life in union with Jesus who said, “Forgive them” is within your power. And such offerings, accepted by God as fragrant sacrifices can be and have been powerful instruments of conversion for sinners. Nobody knew that better than Paul himself, whose conversion began with Stephen’s penitential offering of his very life for the men (including Saul of Tarsus) who were mad to murder him and for whom he prayed, “Lord, do not count this sin against them.” Doing Penance For Others, Mark Shea

So, perhaps, the description of feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people does not really fit.

This morning, a purposefully slow morning before work, I have had time for continued reflection on these things.

Perhaps I really, truly, do these things for God. Not just for others. Or for me.

Perhaps it is the ultimate motive, not the action, that matters.

Yes, I am no saint and so, mixed in with my pure motive of loving God and others, is that dark, murky me with so many less holy, less perfect, intertwined motives. I cannot attribute solely pure holiness to my motives.

Yes, I should say No sometimes and, having said No, should stick-to-my-guns. As I was told, once, when I do everything all the time, well, I make others apathetic and leave no room for others to serve.

But the little lesson that I've learned from my reflection , the little lesson I want to share is - that maybe it is not all about being everything to others . Instead it is remembering that our final aim is God. When we do this, we find that the ( so-called) burden and sacrifice is a whole lot lighter .

This brings to my mind that line from the old Baltimore catechism.. Why did God make me?

To know, love and serve God on earth and to be happy with Him in Heaven.

2 comments:

Fr. Benedict said...

one would hope that it is for God... but that doesn't mean saying no to others = saying no to God!!!

Leonie said...

I know, Fr. Point definitely taken! It takes prayer and discernment, I guess.