Brick House in the City posted a story on their social media accounts last week that rocked me. It told of how a young St. Therese would call out “Mama!” as she went down each step and would wait for her mother’s reply before going down another step. Each step she would call out, and each step her mother would call tenderly, “Yes, my child.” And so it went as she went down the stairs.
Shoot, guys, I would’ve lost it! Can you imagine the patience it would take to call out “Yes, my child” on Every. Single. Step. I get so upset when Nora won’t go up a full set of stairs without any recognition. We’re going through a phase where she wants to be carried everywhere- especially up the stairs. So this particular story called directly to my heart. I try to convince my sweet toddler to come up the steps by herself with patience, kindness, and most of the time, I just carry her if she’s really insisting. But, other times, I yell, or leave her crying because I have to set down the million other things I am carrying up the stairs (including her actually can’t go up the stairs by himself little brother). In these moments, I know that God is doing His sanctifying work in me.
What Would St. Zelie Do?
I wonder if St. Zelie had this internal struggle with little Therese. She knew it was best to be patient and encourage her little girl, but maybe sometimes she just wanted to yell “Therese, come on! Just come down the stairs already!” But her response with patience and love is probably part of the reason St. Zelie came to be recognized as a saint- she had the patience of a saint, as they say. There are other stories of how little St. Therese tested her mother’s patience. I wonder if, really, having her little girl being as testing as she was led St. Zelie to her sanctity. If by offering up her tendencies to impatience or anger, she was able to grow closer to God. I would bet you that her journey in motherhood made her a saint.
I want to be a saint like St. Zelie too. While this sounds a little high and mighty, a saint is really just someone who has gone to heaven, someone who is fully in the presence of God. We have “canonized” saints in the Catholic church- these are people who have obviously followed God in their time alive and then have had two miracles proven in their name (plus a bunch of other logistical steps). We have a lot of them- a lot of men and women, like St. Zelie, to look to as an example of what it means to follow Jesus. But, there are (I hope!) so many more saints than the ones that we have canonized, and I hope to be a part of this community someday.
Motherhood Will Make Me A Saint
I think motherhood is proving to be my quickest path to get there. The day in and day out of toddler tantrums, dirty diapers, and night wakings are doing their work in me. (And we’re not even to the teenage years yet!) I believe God is using these little moments with my kiddos to draw me closer to Him, though I don’t always see it that way. It’s in the moments we see the face of Jesus in our children that we are being sanctified.
“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me'” Matthew 25:45
I fail at this often. I don’t always (or ever!) respond with the sweet patience that St. Zelie responded with to her little Therese. Instead, I get frustrated and yell. I complain to my husband. I stop being present with my kiddos. I don’t treat every little toddler or baby suffering as an act for God. Every little task of motherhood seems so menial and not worth it, everything is always undone.
But, sometimes, I do respond with patience. I give that extra hug and snuggle instead of yelling. I swallow my complaints and smile through it. Sometimes, I work a little harder to be more present. Sometimes I remember to “offer it up,” to see Jesus in the face of my children. I embrace the “littleness” of motherhood as my journey to heaven.
And in these moments, I feel God smiling, saying “I see you. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” You see, God doesn’t need us to be perfect. He simply wants us to be love to those around us- especially to those little beings that he’s entrusted us with. He wants us to try our best every day. Even more importantly, He wants us to call on Him in prayer when we’re not doing so hot.
Prayer in Motherhood
It’s ironic because I am both drawn away from prayer and to prayer as a mother. I often feel like I don’t have any pockets of time in my day to give to God. Or I don’t have a moment of silence in my day. I feel like I can’t do more than five minutes, so why even start? Or, like a couple days ago, I close my eyes to pray and immediately fall asleep.
But at the same time, Jesus is calling to my heart. He asks me to spend that time- as little or “unproductive” as it may be. He calms my heart and shows me the next steps. Even in those days where all I get out are a morning offering– He blesses my day. He gives me the patience that I need. And even better, when I’m not the mom that I want to be that day, He takes me into His loving arms and reassures me that tomorrow is another day. I get the chance to rest and reset.
Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint
Motherhood is strengthening me in all of the different virtues, ones I knew I needed help in and others I thought I had covered. I was made to be a mother, and, yet, I am challenged every day. This motherhood thing is pushing me to rely on God so much more than I ever thought I would need to. As I’ve been praying the St. Therese of Lisieux Novena the past week, this litany of words from it has been convicting me, especially when I apply it in terms of motherhood. I hope that they’ll call on your heart too. Join me in the journey to being a saint- whether motherhood is making you a saint, or something else, we’re all called to the journey. Pray for me, as I’ll pray for you.
I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!
I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!
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