What is it that you fear?
When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the air vent.
I would often have dreams that it would come alive. I imagined that it would freeze me, and I would be unable to move or speak. I remember trying to talk to it once and in a dream it spoke back to me. I tried to get away in my dream, and the fear became greater than ever. Now my fears look different; fears of drowning or losing my family are among the top contenders for “things I am most afraid of”.
This is fear personified-fear binds us and holds us captive.
What does fear do? It paralyzes you.You can’t think straight.You aren’t free; you are a captive in your own body.You do things you wouldn’t normally do, or hold back from things you would normally do.
So many of us have been groomed by the world to fear certain things.
Fear of being judged or talked about.
Fear of being found out.
Fear of being not enough or too much.
Fear of loneliness.
Fear of failure.
Our fears impact our behavior. When we’re afraid of being judged, we hide what we don’t want others knowing. If we’re worried about not being enough, we try to be something we’re not. When we’re afraid of being too much, we hide ourselves and hold back. If we’re afraid of being lonely, we tend to seek out attention in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places. When we’re afraid of failure, we don’t even attempt to succeed.
As I look at my life, probably the sneakiest fear that holds me captive is the fear that I will not be a good mother to my children. It’s not a fear that has a distinct image, or one that I can picture as a scenario. It is one that leads to a whole host of other sins, such as comparison and judgment, and second-guessing myself.
This is what happens when this fear finds it’s way into our motherhood: it paralyzes our ability to parent well and lead our kids to Christ. The ultimate goal for ourselves and for our children, sainthood, becomes completely off-limits, and we count ourselves out of the running.
We buy into lies that can sound something along the lines of
“God could never use me, just look at my past!”
“I’m too busy to think about sainthood.”
“How can I lead my kids to Christ when my husband isn’t even Catholic?”
“How am I supposed to teach my kids to pray when I’m not good at it myself?” “What if I mess up?”
But God knows our limitations and imperfections and has given us incredible saints as examples. Saints, mothers, who have been through it all and have come out the other side perfected in Him. Their lives looked completely different from one another, but no circumstance was too great for God to transform them and make them holy.
St. Margaret of Scotland had 8 children.
The Virgin Mary, just one child.
St. Zelie Martin had a happy marriage.
St. Rita had a difficult one.
St. Margaret of Cortona had a child out of wedlock.
St. Helena was a single mother.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was a widowed mother.
St.Ann was a stay at home mom.
St. Gianna Molla worked outside the home.
These are just a few of the amazing women saints we have in our Church, and they are all so different. Yet they all lived out the call they were given. They became who they were meant to be, even when faced with fear. When our experience of motherhood doesn’t look like the “ideal”, we can remember that sainthood is found in whatever it is that God is asking of you, despite your circumstances. No circumstance is too big for His grace.
God is calling you to be like them in the sense that He wants you to be who you are made to be. It means being the best version of yourself. We all have things to overcome, and we will continue to receive things to overcome throughout life. That might mean letting go of a friendship that is leading you away from God. Or making a real effort to go to Mass on Sunday, or starting daily prayer. It could mean letting go of the music or movies that you like. You may already have something in your heart that you know God is asking of you. Don’t ignore it.
This e-book is a collection of stories from women with different experiences of Catholic motherhood. While their journeys are different, the destination is the same. Heaven, and sainthood, are our pursuit. We are tempted to fear, but God gives us the grace to have courage and keep going.
As St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who you were meant to be, and you will set the world on fire.”