Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Life of Substance

I have often felt misunderstood. Not worthy. Not deserving. Unheard. Unheeded.

Often the walls of my house speak contentment to me. Oftener a friendly voice lifts me up. Even oftener a gifted voice from this inner tangled blogging world which others criticize and warn us against, affirms me and sets my back on the right path.

But not today. Today I was gone from home. The voices were silent.

And today was a day I faltered in my worth. Questioned my decisions. Justified my goals. I forgot that I...

"...actually exist more, fully, wholly, when I do that which I was made for? Worship. Communion. Love. Prayer, hidden and intangible, it is the day’s true product, it’s ultimate purpose."

Not sure why I beat myself up time and time again. I've had a good life. A very good life. And I know I am worth much more than what the Ford Modeling Agency would ever rate me. Much more. Still others around their own humanness, their own sensitivities, their own faltering...make me feel less than I was born to be.

Coming home late I found a simple email in my box. My friend Kimberly had counseled: "Get a Kleenex" and left the link.

I was not surprised at all when the link led me gently to Ann's "common backdoor, the one off the garage, the one which purposely has no walkway at all from the laneway to the doorknob -- a failed deterrent. Folks don't mind at all walking right through sunflowers and hollyhocks to get to a back door."
 And I...
"...walk straight into the tossed shoes, the dropped bats and balls and shovels and gloves, walk right into the mudroom with its mud.
Right in through (the) laundry, (her) piles, (her) underwear and crusted socks."

I don't cry easily but these words made me cry: "The things done in love, this the only work in our lives that will last forever."

The three baskets of laundry show the filth in my life. The cookie sheet with scourged lasagna sap still stuck shows the residue that sticks to my days. The ant-covered dog food at my personal backdoor sidedoor show the messiness of my welcomes. The cluttered top of my refrigerator announces the clutter of my checkbook and scrapbooks and picture albums and homeschooling which clothe my tabletop and windowseat.

And this is my life in abundance...while telling myself that I want order but, really, if I'm honest with myself: "Too often, sadly, I want product, others to see product, so they can see: I have worth."

And I know that that is not me. God did not create me to produce as He did other people. I am simply not of the producing variety. I can do nothing with cloth. Forget yarn. Nothing with wood. Even less with metal. I cook and bake but the presentation is not always pretty. If I were on your debate team, we would lose. Sorry, but we would. Other members of my household have observed that my oldest daughter cleans the house better than I do. That would hurt only I don't like to clean so that takes away the sting. When Kayleigh cleans you know the house has been cleaned. I really do view it as a blessing and try to hug the obvious. When I clean no one says anything. Mom's hands in the sink mean nothing. Mom's hands in the washing machine means zilch. Mom's hands in the dust cloth means zero. Mom's hands in the toilet means even less.

And so, while I do not seem to produce anything substantial, I still know that God created me to procreate with Him. I do not take this as only the procreation of children (though I must say children are something I evidently "produce" very well :-) but rather a service to God to procreate in prayer and attitude and presence, "to worship, to pray, to love, to be hidden and intangible", to study His words and use His words, and just to be.

For some people that type of production...that which is "hidden and intangible" simply is not good enough. This simply will not do. I am always insufficient in their eyes. For me that is all I have.

There is nothing about me organized and perfect. Try as I might, nothing I do is ever "good enough." The smallest negative statement can deafen the greatest applause around me. People come in my backdoor sidedoor and see messy tabletops and unfolded laundry. They do not see clean towels overflowing on the folding counter near the ones yet to be cleaned. They do not see the one stack of perfectly planned school books next to the two stacks yet to be done. They do not see the fresh-dripped coffee near the crumbs of this morning's buttered toast.

Why do people see the worse?

God tries to tell me, "Let it be."

I don't want it to be. I want people to see that I "...try everyday. I do. Really, I do."

Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love. ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

I want people to see the aura in my home and in my life instead of the dust, the sunbeam through my kitchen window instead of the smoke coming from my oven, the essence of flowers in my bathroom rather than deodorizer.

Yet that perfect world doesn't stay complete. By the end of the day it fails me, leaving only its smear on my blog if I take time to capture it...which you can't very well do when the camera is lost.

I realize while trying to please many, I fail to please any...including myself. Where I falter the most is in the fact that I don't really mind the clutter and the family messes and the residue of life in a family of seven plus all the family and friends who come through my backdoor sidedoor to dirty my coffee cups and soil my carpet and leave my laundry room door open.

Why should we defend ourselves when we are misunderstood and misjudged? Let us leave that aside. Let us not say anything. It is so sweet to let others judge us in any way they like. O blessed silence, which gives so much peace to the soul! ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

I love those people and I love my life. My life is full to overflowing. It overflows in every single the laundry baskets and the kitchen sink, from the gumbo pot, out the vehicle's sidedoor, on the bookshelves and on the pantry shelves. Life overflows and I am grateful. So grateful.

Except when the other six living here overload the laundry baskets and don't help with the kitchen sink and get irritated with my upkeep of that vehicle and pantry. Then I am ashamed of my gratefulness and brought down to feeling insufficient and unproductive...again. Only it is not the people who live here who make me feel inferior. Ironic, isn't it? They are the reasons and the purpose I do what I do. Remember, I love who I have and what I have.

I am only made to feel insufficient when someone else points out the nevus of my home and family. For me love overshadows the dirt and the grime. It is only outsiders peeping into my laundry room and trash can with pride on their minds who destroy my peace of heart.

I falter yet again and glance at the messy condition of that unperfected backdoor sidedoor knowing that, where I see the fullness most people see that clutter. Where I see sunshine, fresh air and exercise they see muddy shoes. Where I see uncultivated wildflowers, they see weeds. They judge me and make me feel inferior by their perfect lives and their organized front doors which no one ever uses. Only the whirl of my washing machine matches the cycle of my days.

Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labors. ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

When reading Ann, I feel different. Here is someone who understands backdoor bliss. To feel so understood, despite ourselves, to be told that your hidden life matters much, that you are worthy, deserving, heeded, heard even when the voice who speaks doesn't know you from Eve. It makes a poppy field of difference.

I've heard that voice before. It reminds me that my value is not found in the produce or the perfection. It's found in the "process of prayer and love" and that is where my focus should be. I am going through a process; not a victory march. I am not on trial.

Even when my family does not think I am doing enough for them (do they ever?) I have to believe that I am doing the best I can. The best I can with my abilities, my mental state, my knowledge, my experience, and my talent.

 "Our Lord needs from us neither great deeds nor profound thoughts. Neither intelligence nor talents. He cherishes simplicity." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

The "process" of cleansing my family's clothes becomes more a cleansing of self.  I am molding myself more than molding the playdoh on my coffee table. I am frying my personal flaws more than I am frying Sunday's chicken dinner. I am airing out my own hang-ups more than I am airing out laundry on the line. This "process" goes deeper, much deeper, than what is seen on the surface of my home. And, most the time, only God sees the process. Everyone else sees the product that is not as beautiful as the ideal that is in their mind.

The questions I need to ask myself at the end of the day shouldn't be: Did I empty the dishwasher? did I fuss at the child who didn't empty the dishwasher? did I slam the dryer door on that eighth load of laundry?

The questions I need to ask myself (and no one else) at the end of the day should be: Did I love well? Did I do what I do out of love for my family? Did I love these people well?

"You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

Constantly that voice has to remind me of this. I'm pretty good at tuning voices out. The Holy Spirit speaks and acknowledges that we need not do great things in order to be worthy. He visits our heart's home through the common backdoors of others and reminds us that the process is His and through this we are made Whole: perfect and complete.

Jesus needs neither books nor Doctors of Divinity in order to instruct souls; He, the Doctor of Doctors, He teaches without noise of words. ~ St. Therese of Lisieux


  1. Just what my soul needed to hear! Thanks-Monica


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