Betty Duffy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Theme of the Week: The Holy Spirit Speaks

When a first born child starts to misbehave, a mother worries: What happened to my sweet little boy? What have I done to cause such a change in him? Why is he acting this way? But the behavior passes eventually, younger siblings enter similar stages, and the seasoned mother, now acquainted with the various rebellions of a three-year-old says, “Oh, we must be entering tantrum season.” The misbehavior is a sign that the child is developmentally on target. The child’s writhing and complaining can be almost funny when a mother knows that her child alone is not the only child on Earth to cast his body flailing around on the floor like a captured carp. She knows that this tantrum shall pass, and so too this difficult stage in his emotional apprenticeship.

I walked into Pedge’s house yesterday morning to find her and Irene, looking sort of glum and hashing out the weekend’s events: “I’m so fickle.” “I feel like we are always the squeaky wheel.” “I guess I thought that our sphere of influence would be a little bit wider at this point in our lives.” And I had to burst out laughing, “You mean I’m not the only one having this crisis this weekend? How dare you women take the words from my mouth!” It took a minute for them to realize I wasn’t laughing at their problems, only that, of course we would be grappling with similar themes at this stage in our lives. It was funny that I should expect anything else.

This weekend my husband and I had an anniversary, and my mom offered to keep the kids, all of them, even the nursing baby to whom I’ve been attached for the past six months. Such an occasion called for big plans. We would laugh and talk until we’re blue in the face, go to where the beautiful people are, drink wine, and dance all night. When the stakes are that high, the reality can only disappoint. As the fates played out, we spent our special night, sharing an early bird special with the old folks at an antique mall.

On my drive over, I’d been thinking to myself, “I have absolutely no reason to wallow in this malaise. Why can’t I kick these expectations that always exceed the reality? What am I doing wrong?” But when I heard my dear friends discussing their similar experiences, it became a sign to me, that God might be saying, “No child. You are right where you are supposed to be. And this too shall pass, once you have mastered this stage in your emotional apprenticeship.” It was both a comfort that I am not alone in my experience, that I am on some familiar terrain, and a confirmation, that God uses the people and events in my life to communicate with me, intimately and lovingly.

As confident as I feel that God is interested and involved in our lives here on Earth, sometimes I also have doubts that he would care so much as to speak to us, and at times be so straightforward.

“You my child shall be called a prophet of the most high.” “The Almighty has done great things for me.” “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Am I being a little grandiose when I say these prayers and think that God could be speaking these words to me when I harbor such ingratitude? How can I speak the words of the Saints? Is it prideful to interpret the relationships and communications of my life as a discourse with God?

Olivier Clement wrote, “Everything—the world, history, other people and myself—can be a source of revelation, because through everything we can discern like a watermark, the face of the Risen Christ, the friend who secretly shares with each of us the bread of affliction and the wine of mirth.”

The more blogs I read, the more news articles, I am confirmed that God is in very clear and direct communication with his children. I would even say that God provides a sort of theme of the week--ideas that come to me independently from various sources, a conversation here, an article there, and then I read a few blogs and find out that other people are thinking about the same things. And my friendships are no exception.

I meet with Pedge and Irene every Tuesday morning to read the Gospel and discuss things that are going on in our lives. So many times I have been affirmed of the presence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives through these mornings of reflection. I’ve been made aware of the goodness in my life, been moved to action, and learned to be grateful for the uncertainties and imperfections of my life.

Sometimes the epiphanies are profound, sometimes they are not. On this particular morning my epiphany was this: Maybe I fell off the track to super skinny, super famous, writer, if I was ever on it, but at least my life is not bullshit. We are rich in the things that matter. Pedge’s mom is coming into the Church this weekend and will receive the Sacraments for the first time. Between Pedge, Irene and I, we have fourteen healthy children. We all have hard working and faithful husbands. My life is not bullshit. It’s good enough for me. But like a child, I always want more. And I throw a tantrum, until the storm calms, and I can see that I have a room full of toys, more than I’ll ever need.

I love my imperfect husband, our imperfect marriage, our imperfect children, and our imperfect house. I love my imperfect Church family, my imperfect mom, dad, siblings and in-laws, my imperfect friends, and I love the way God speaks to me through each one of them. I can say that with confidence, God speaks to imperfect me.


Justyn said...

this is just lovely.

Sarah Miller said...

You are awesome. :)

Kate said...

You forgot to mention your perfect in-law. ;)

If God does do theme weeks, then he picked you for part of mine - this was a good post to come at the end of a long pout.

jen said...

beautiful betty. i stumbled you again. i will explain stumble upon in a post, soon. it was intimidating to me at first. i think catholics, in particular, who "stumble" (not literally you know, the Web site) would really enjoy your posts. I certainly do.

Betty Duffy said...

JEn, thanks for stumbling me. I saw that you did that earlier in the week, and I thought, "ok I'll figure out how to do this now." I put a stumble tool bar up on my navigator, and I got to where you can copy the html on your blog, but I couldn't figure out where to paste it. I gave up, then. So, I'm looking forward to your post.

Kate, You're right, I did leave out the perfect people.

This Heavenly Life said...

That was wonderful! I find myself throwing pity-tantrums only to be smacked upside the head by some sweet nothing that usually flies right past with no notice by selfish ol' me. Wonderful.