This past week I was speaking to my priest about some struggles within my family. I heard the words "don't go there" come from his mouth, but it wasn't a threat or a warning, it was permission. This really took me by surprise. I had to think about this because, I will confess, I have a hard time not "going there" with my family. The idea that I could have the permission to walk away was beyond my scope of understanding. Of course I must still address the issues, but I don't necessarily have to put on the "Nazi mommy" hat and go to battle with my battling child. Perhaps I could wait. Waiting is such a foreign concept! What would happen if I didn't shout "CHARGE" in my heart and prepare to deflect every argument, insult and excuse? What if I went in looking at the situation as an opportunity to humble myself, even in...no...ESPECIALLY in my home.
How does a mother NOT "go there"? We learn about putting on the full armor of God, but I think we often mistakenly think the armor is to protect us from getting hit with flaming arrows and stray bullets from our children, and possibly our husbands, rather than the enemy of man's soul. When our children are young we are teaching them constantly, whether we mean to or not, how to sort out life and who we go to for help. It isn't so much about being the perfect mother as it is about living in repentance in front of our children allowing them to see us on our knees in the midst of the chaos. It isn't that we have to show them there are no struggles, but how to seek Christ within those struggles instead of lashing out or fighting against our own "troops". By living in repentance and prayer, by struggling and seeking the guidance of Christ our Lord, we are teaching them how to put on the armor that is only strong because it is made by God so they have the hope of the resurrection and the world to come...that hope that strengthens faith which gives us the courage to follow Christ in humility and love.
So, Dear Mamas, I give you permission to NOT "go there". I give me permission to stay away from wherever "there" is as well. Motherhood takes practice and often includes feeling like a failure. We can feel like we must be a little mentally "off" because so many other moms seem to have it together. Well, the best mom ever, the Theotokos, LOST Jesus when he was 12, and yet we certainly wouldn't classify her as a failure! Be gentle with yourself and ask the Theotokos, the mother of all mothers, to pray on our behalf. It is a hard road we travel but not one we must travel alone.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. (Ps. 3:2–4)
May God be glorified and keep us from "going there" that we may go to Him instead!