Betty Duffy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Church Ladies on the Telephone

Pedge calls and says, “Stop beating yourself up! You’re killing us! I thought happy days were here again—remember? It is not the quality of your prayer that makes you a good Christian. You are fine. Your kids are fine. There is no doubt in my mind that your life is completely oriented towards God’s will.”

And this phone call illustrates why friendship is a prayer, and God’s will is community.

As Pope Benedict XVI said, “You can never look for faith in isolation; it is only found in an encounter with people who believe, who can understand you, who have perhaps come by way of a similar situation themselves, who can in some way lead you and help you. It is always among us that faith grows. Anyone who wants to go it alone has got it wrong from the very start.”

If Pedge were in a religious order, she’d be a laid back Franciscan friar. I’d be the self-flagellating monk living on a pillar—only without the asceticism—maybe a secret stock of peanut m&ms. As it happens, we are both Midwestern Catholic moms trying to do God’s will for our families, and supporting each other as we go. Both of us survived our childhoods, and all of the dumb things we did when we were little, and all the things our parents did (or didn’t do) to shape our spirituality. God pursued us when we were ready to answer. We turned out fine. And our kids are going to be fine.

The mistake is believing that I have complete control over how my kids will turn out. I’m not home schooling. I’m half-assed about housework. My prayer life is…flexible. My temptation is to think that if I performed perfectly in these areas I’d be more pleasing to God and I would ensure my children’s holiness. But God made me precisely as I am, and he also gave my children the free will to dispense with everything I teach them as they are growing.

God knew from the beginning that if I had five children I would do a less-than-stellar job on the laundry for awhile. He knew from the beginning that laundry would be the first thing to go for me, which is why he gave me a husband who enjoys laundry, who takes a little pride in how he keeps it circulating and in how he folds it.

He knew that my kids would not have all the one on one attention that a mother of fewer kids can provide—and he knows exactly how each one of them is going to overcome that fact in their lives. God knows more about how my life and my kids’ lives are going to turn out, and he has known it since the beginning of time. He could sum up my life from beginning to end in just a few sentences.

To Mary, he said, “You shall have a son and call him Jesus and he will be the Savior of all people.” And Mary, hearing her life summed up just so, thinks on this for awhile, and says, “All generations will call me blessed for God who is mighty has done great things for me.”

If this conversation were between God and me, he’d say, “Betty, you are going to have five kids, and I have a plan for each of them, which I will reveal when they are old enough to pay attention.” And instead of saying, “But God, I’m going to fulfill this plan poorly, like a spoiled and stubborn teenager, and my kids are too naughty to pay attention—surely you’ve got the wrong lady,” I’ll say, “OK. I’m going to be your handmaid too, without resentment or self-doubt. And thank you, by the way, for giving me these kids and such an amazing and simple life.”


'becca said...

when is your book coming out?

Love you Duffy.

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

As a certified stalker of this blog, all I want to know is, what does "Pedge" mean? Is it a derivative of her name - is that her real name? A nickname? An inside joke? You don't have to reveal Pedge's real name, of course, I just want to know where it comes from.

Thanks, Sharon.

Pedge said...

Pedge is my grandma's nickname. She was named after one of the cows on their farm. Although she dropped the nickname for the more respectable, Norma, her home is to this day decorated with holsteins. BTW, I love your blog!

Pedge said...

Oh, and Betty, you inspire me and I love your blog too!

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

Pedge, I feel so much better now. It is a funny thing, this blogging. I feel like you guys are a part of my day! And, just for mutual admiration - I laughed harder at a post on your blog than I have laughed in a long time. I mean outloud guffaws. It was the one about your little one and his "PeeWee Bone" I think it was. And Betty's response was just the icing on a very delicious cake. Perfection.

:) Thanks to you both. You inspire me.
Love, Sharon

megan said...

ok, betty and co., im sad to say that im giving up reading blogs for the rest of my life. this "good" homeschooling Mom started the day by telling her oldest he was done with school after one side of a math worksheet because Sharon called and I wanted to talk to her instead and then I spent the rest of the day pushing my kids out of the room while i read blogs. i think i checked out about 30 altogther. i just cant seem to do anything in moderation. Let me just say I love all of your blogs. Sharon I just learned that you actually write on yours. I have been missing out all this time. and now its time to say goodbye.....until i have another slacker day. (see you tomorrow)

Betty Duffy said...

I'm loving this love fest.

And Megan, I've had a slacker day myself, and many days when I feel like the blog is a distraction from what I'm supposed to be doing, and many days when checking up on other ladies holding down the fort has helped me get through a day. I love all your blogs too, and Megan, I'm just waiting for yours...when you have the time. I know it would be hilarious.

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

I, for one, don't believe Megan.

Count me in for the slacker day. Make that a slacker week. I just realized this morning that I have forgotten to shower for the past few days. Not good.

megan said...

I'm back! See, I really do have no self control. Sharon, you know me too well and Betty, you are exactly right. Blogs can either be a major distraction or the lifeline that keeps me off the edge of the cliff.

Emily said...

Hi Cousins - Can I join in? Lots of love to you from here too! We loved seeing your beautiful kids Megan, and I wish we could've spent more time visiting - and seen Sharon's family too! Although I was warned NOT to talk about Betty's blog. Love getting the updates via your blog, Sharon. I didn't know you were such a talented photographer! So maybe before we move we'll come up just to visit and I can peek at someone else's Facebook account, because I just can't go there on my own.