As I begin 2010, I am reflecting on lessons learned in 2009, just like Jen and many others. Below are the significant things I feel the Lord wants me to remember. Will you join me by sharing your lessons learned by posting a comment below?
- Be patient --- Both in my marriage and in my faith, the Lord urged me to wait. At the start of the year I had begun to begrudge the state of my faith and the toll three years of law school had taken on our marriage. I was desperate to move forward at full speed, but the only part I could control (or so I mistakenly thought) was my faith life. So, I tried to fit into a deeper spirituality that remains truly meaningful to me and seemed like a straight shot to God, but to my pleasant surprise, that did not work out. Silly me, after ten years of marriage, I thought I could pull my husband along on a string behind me towards God. Nope. I had to wait, and in time, our marriage healed, then soared, and our faith is taking significant steps together, as well.
- Have confidence ---Some of the year was spent doubting my homeschooling abilities. We all do this. I listened to other mothers and compared my efforts to theirs. I questioned my curriculum choices and wondered why I could not seem to do as much as those moms with four, five, six, and more children. In my heart, though, the Lord reminded me that I love my children, and my choices of books and materials do not have to be perfect for them to learn. My daughter's annual evaluation forced me to see that we accomplished an enormous amount of learning, despite my constant worries. So, I was given the gift to let go of the comparisons and the doubts and simply enjoy teaching, knowing that I truly am the best teacher for my children, despite my inadequacies. And, you know what? Things went very smoothly after that, and I feel good about the remainder of the year.
- Be content --- Suffering a lifetime of subfertility had really taken its toll on me in 2009. We had been TTC for two and a half years (this time) with assistance from the Pope Paul VI Institute, and mid-year, we decided it was time to let it go. I told the Lord it was okay if He only wanted me to have two children and that I would do my best to focus more of my positive energy on them in preparation for whatever else He had in store for my life (instead of the huge family I have wanted for so long). This summer, I felt a freedom and happiness I hadn't felt in forever, and I fell in love with my children all over again, truly enjoying them.
- Trust me --- But, God kept whispering painful things in my heart. He seemed to be telling me that someday I would again have and nurse another baby, giving me hope that I was afraid to accept. I also heard a prompting to make a complete offering of my soul as a willingness to accept whatever trials God was planning to send me. I realized His plan for our family likely would include suffering, perhaps significant pain in the coming months or years, and I felt Him preparing my heart. With hesitation, I agreed to trust Him, knowing that whatever His will is, it is always far better than any plans I could make.
- Be quiet --- You can read more about my initial lessons of silence and my hope to continue this instruction of my soul in 2010 here. I became very quiet in August, September, and October. I gave up a few outside commitments that pained me to cancel. My faith remained my rock intellectually, but externally and internally I kept God at arm's length from the door to my heart. Being sick for much of this time, it was hard to muster any prayer or much conversation. Some of the silence was good for my soul; it needed to heal.
- Praise me --- Because of my decision to trust the Lord, He invited me to a mantra that became my strength during those quiet months. I firmly decided over the summer that I would praise God no matter what. Praying Morning Prayer from the Divine Office truly inspired this declaration, as the psalms chosen are full of words of praise. He is always worthy of praise, regardless of the ups and downs of our lives. I watched a dear family live this to the fullest, when their precious baby girl was prenatally diagnosed with many medical challenges and was taken to the arms of Jesus when she was only nine days old, and they still praised God. What admirable faith!
- Be amazed --- This was truly the greatest lesson of 2009. To our amazement in August, we found out we were finally pregnant (without the aid of our fertility medications) but lost the baby only a week later at six weeks. Anyone who has ever lost a child knows a deep pain that will never go away despite the circumstances of the loss. I have been blessed with that pain and am amazed at its permanence and the fog of quiet in which I lived those three quiet months. But, God is not to be outdone in generosity, and to humble our faith beyond comprehension, He sent us another life immediately. I conceived two weeks after losing that precious little soul. Our little guy is due in early June, and he is gently kicking me now, as I write this. I am amazed (and will be forevermore) by every lesson of 2009. (I just saved the best for last!)
What lessons did you face from the Greatest Teacher in 2009?