Sunday, May 26, 2013

Embracing My Gift of Spiritual Motherhood.

There are many new terms and ideas that I've learned since becoming Catholic. Many times I'll see a word or a phrase used commonly in Catholic circles and be like; "What are they talking about?" As I Protestant I often talked to new Christians or people that weren't yet Christians and I would always find myself explaining words, phrases, or references that in my Christian circles were colloquial. I would often joke that when you accepted Christ, you also committed to learning a new language. As I've gone from Protestant to Catholic I've had to learn a whole new language. I knew more of it than I would have had I not been immersed in Christianity at all, but I've needed to learn a whole lot more! One of those is the idea of spiritual motherhood. I don't know that I had ever heard it previously, but now I seem to be hearing it constantly. Just about every time I've heard a Catholic speak on women or motherhood, I've heard this term included.

I recognized the concept as a beautiful thing, but kept thinking "I want more, I will not settle for that, I want to be an actual mom, not just a spiritual one." Lately I've heard more and more about this concept of spiritual motherhood, it's been everywhere! In a few of the e-mails I received on Mother's Day people would mention that I'm a mother to the children I have in my home for daycare, and to my nieces and nephew. The Friday before Mother's Day one of my daycare moms told me "happy Mother's Day" and when my face fell, reminded me that I am a mother to her child, and all of the children I care for. I've known these things, I know I love them as my own, and would do anything for them, and I know they love me, and value me, but I've always thought it wasn't enough.

I had a dream the other night where I was standing in front of a group of women talking about spiritual motherhood. I almost laughed when I reflected on it because that's not something I embraced, or wanted to settle for. And, being content in that would most certainly be settling. This morning as I got dressed I was thinking again about the concept of spiritual motherhood. If you've read much about my journey, then you know that sometimes God needs to beat me over the head with something before I'll listen!

On the way to church this morning I opened up my little purple book that my mom gave me some time ago called Promises for Life for Women, it's a nice little book with various topics that relate to women and some scripture to go along with that topic, and a small blurb of commentary. I opened it to a random page and almost groaned when I saw "Motherhood" was the topic I opened to, but then I saw the specific topic "Spiritual Motherhood" I had to read on, as this is a topic that I've been plagued by for a while. When I read the last paragraph I stopped, and I finally got it.

"Women do not have to carry, adopt, or raise children in order to qualify as spiritual moms. Instead we only need to display a willingness to use the gifts which God has entrusted us in order to nurture others and strengthen them in their faith." 

It clicked. As soon as I read that I had a flood of memories:
-A neighbor girl introducing me to a friend by saying; "That's Miss Amanda, she's like the town mom, if you do something bad, she'll tell you to not to, if you fall off your bike, she'll give you a bandaid, and if you need something, you just ask her."
-Taking a piece of dirt out a little one's mouth and my own husband saying; "Now, mom, it's just a little protein." ((and then covering his mouth when he realized his mistake))
-Counseling teenaged girls, and women older than myself.
-Comforting sick and hurting children.
-Worrying over the health, choices, and well being of so many.
-Loving unconditionally so many people.
-Welcoming children and their mothers into my home.
-Bandaging scrapes and cuts.
-Chasing away monsters, singing silly songs, and wiping away tears.
-Rocking little ones and reading The Word to them.

And so many other things. I am a mother, to many, many children. I may not have birthed them, and they may only call me "mommy" on accident, but spiritually, I am a mother.

How many times have I referred to my heart for children, and my instinct to mother as a curse? How many times have I questioned why God would give me these desires, and yet no children of my own? I'd been looking at it all wrong. I've been refusing to use my talents fully in the way He needs me to right now. I've been telling Him that this wondrous gift of spiritual motherhood wasn't enough. It is enough.

It's enough for those children that need it. It's enough for those teenagers that need me. It's enough for those women that seek my guidance. If it's what He asks of me, it's enough.

In his homily today Father said; "Don't bury your talents." That's exactly what I've been doing. I've been burying my talents, I've been denying the gifts I was given. My ability to love and nurture, my heart for children, my love for anyone that needs it, is not being wasted or used up.  My desire to mother has not gone unanswered. He has provided me with more children to mother and love and care for than I could have ever dreamed. I am a mother. Maybe not in a physical sense, but I do have a role to fill, I am not sitting around waiting on my life as a mother to begin, as I once thought. It's here. I am a mother, I am in the middle of my role, I just need to embrace my gifts, embrace what He has given me, and willingly answer His call to spiritual motherhood.

It's not settling, not at all. I can do great things for many children right here, right now. He has given me the heart full of love, and the ability to nurture. Now it's just up to me to use those gifts as fully as I can.

 I may be a physical mother one day, and I may never be. Either way, I am a mother. I am a loving, devoted mother, spiritually to many people. They need me now, and I am going to stop denying them the guidance and nourishment they need from me, I am going to stop burying my talents and hoping they'll grow, and I'm going to start using them, putting them to work, and by the grace of God, watch them flourish.

One little girl that needed some love from her aunt.

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