Punctured With Grace

Punctured With Grace

The other day, I was surprised when the thought ‘it is good that I am single’ came into my mind. Yet in sitting with these words, I recognized there was a truth found in them. It occurred to me while in the chapel and I found that the truth was seen primarily in how much I desire them not to be true.

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that something interesting happens when a group of people is asked to introduce themselves to the rest of the gathering. Understandably, many people introduce themselves by referring to their spouse or children or even the number or kind of pets they own. Right out of college, I could get away with listing off my siblings, but the more time passes, the more odd it seems to include them in my sixty second about me for a group.

However, what I deeply desire is to have an identity that is solidly rooted in being the wife of so-and-so or the mother of whomever. The idea of having a person I can always show up to things with or children who become the focus of the conversation rather than me sounds incredibly alluring. I’m not trying to downplay the difficulty in these ways of living, but many aspects of it fill me with great longing and deep desire. For all the hard found in that vocation, there is an abundance of beauty and grace found there, too.

It is in light of those particular desires that I was realizing my singleness is a gift from God. One I hope will not continue forever and yet is most assuredly a gift.

Why?

Because my very hope and desire to have an identity shaped by my relation to a spouse or children shows how desperately I still need to root myself in Christ. The goodness of the Lord is found here, in my current situation, and I am being given a privileged chance to become more assured of my identity in the Lord. I don’t get to hide behind attachments or people who I very much desire to be part of my life. And that ever-present ache can be a piercing reminder of my need for God, one which can’t be assuaged by cradling an infant or a date night with my husband.

It is incredibly, boldly present from the fact that my students address me as Miss (or Mrs. but I am reminded of their wrongness when they do it, even if I rarely correct them) to the fact that I’m not helping children through the serving line at family gatherings. The gaping ache can, if I permit it, become a place the Lord can fill, a place of pure desire surrendered to God, recognizing my own inability to fulfill myself. It can be become empty hands, waiting to be filled, trusting they will be filled, and yet acknowledging the goodness of still being empty.

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Whatever God Chooses Should Be All the Same to Us

Whatever God Chooses Should Be All the Same to Us

I didn’t expect to feel sadness at a wedding.

Anything near tears, I assumed, would come from the overwhelming joy of seeing a good friend get married. And while I was definitely happy, I was startled by the profound loneliness that pervaded my heart, even as I sat in a pew with beloved friends and was surrounded by many people I knew. Grateful that my friend was receiving that for which she had long prayed, I discovered a sorrow that I didn’t want to find at that time or in that place. The human heart frequently seems inconvenient, but I’ve found that leaning into that is more helpful than ignoring it.

Near the beginning of the liturgy, I heard the priest proclaim a single word in the midst of a longer prayer. He said “home” and I was immediately asking the Lord where my home was. Looking over the priest’s head, I saw the crucifix, arms stretched wide and side pierced, and within myself I heard Him say that my home was there. In His side, opened so that mercy could pour out, was my home, my refuge, the only place I belonged on either side of Heaven.

As my blog slowly moves from being thoroughly unread to something that people I know and don’t know read, I find myself hesitant to ever speak of being single. Some of my former students occasionally look at my blog as do co-workers, and it feels odd to share this particularly deep desire, even if it seems obvious or assumed or commonplace. Yet it also feels odd to share so many other parts of my heart and then withhold speaking of the vocation I feel called to, simply because God hasn’t fully answered that prayer.

I’m a melancholic and as such I am accustomed to longing. One of the most enduring longings has been for marriage and a family. It isn’t my only desire, but it is the one that seems the most fervent. This newly married friend is one I often spoke of this longing with, as we questioned when it would be fulfilled and wondered how it would happen. So I understand to a degree why this wedding also filled my heart with a bit of sadness. It was because my compatriot had what she longed for and I was still waiting, still hoping, still wondering when and if it would happen.

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Open House, New School Year

There are a lot of things most people don’t know about teachers.  Most people don’t understand that non-essential classroom decorations (posters, quotes, extra materials) are not paid for by the school.  At times they don’t realize that teaching isn’t a 8-4 job, even if those are the hours for school.  They see the long summers, the Christmas breaks, the consistent weekends off and they believe that teachers have it made.  My dad used to say that teachers complain about their pay but they only work for nine months out of the year.  After seeing me endure my first year of teaching, I think he re-evaluated and commented that teachers work pretty hard.  Every job has its difficulties but people think they know everything that teachers must do because they have all experienced classroom teachers.  The other side of the desk is a bit harder, I’ve learned.

The school year is just beginning and I feel tired already.  Tonight was open house–where the parents go through a mock day and are in each class for 5 minutes.  I’ve never been a big fan of it and always get nervous to speak to the parents.  Tonight I was the least nervous I have ever been but there were still moments of anxiety.

The best part was when I would thank the parents for being the primary educators of their children in regards to the faith.  My intention was to challenge them, encourage them, and applaud them for their efforts.  It was wonderful to see the parents hear what their children probably never say to them.  They see the battles to get their children to Mass and I catch a glimpse of the greatness of that action.  One of the parents thanked me for what I do for the students.  Despite my dislike for the open house in general, that makes it worth it.  I love that I was able to encourage, however briefly, the parents in their vocation as parent.  The rewards may not seem obvious but they will be eternal.

Since my older sister came home for home visit, I am realizing that I love the idea of the lay vocation.  It is the leaven in the world.  The sanctification of the world will only be possible, I believe, with the sanctification of the laity.