Let Us Love and Encourage One Another!

Yesterday, while picking up a prescription for one of my boys, I overheard an exchange between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Tech.

As the Pharmacy Tech was looking up the prescription I needed, she turned to the pharmacist next to her and said, “So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow? I know your husband isn’t going to do anything for you,” she chuckled, “but how about your mom or your kids are they doing anything?”

“Well, tomorrow is my kids’ end of the year baseball party, so that’s what I’m doing.” She said with a smile, “When you have kids, that’s how you spend your birthday some times.”

With a snarky snort the Pharmacy Tech said, “Yeah! When you have kids, you have no life!”

The Pharmacist paused for a moment and then replied, “I have a life! My kids are my life but I have a life”

“Yeah, your kids are your life.” said the Pharmacy Tech as she moved to the shelf to grab my prescription.

Joy Filled Catholic

Parenting is SO Much More Joyful than You Think it Is! Be positive and tell her, “Spending the day with your family sounds perfect!”

That’s what I wanted to say to the prickly pharmacy tech when she brought my prescription…but I didn’t. The exchange has been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell her that kids are a HUGE joy and she should be an encouragement instead of Ms. “Debbie Downer”! I wanted her to know that when a parent says that our kids are our life, that doesn’t mean we don’t exist anymore – our existence is transformed into something much greater.

My children are also my life! If not for them, I believe that my world would look quite different! I know I would be much more selfish and self-centered. I know, because that’s how I lived for many years. My children and my husband are helping me to become a better person.

I think about those many times when I was so tired, and one of my boys would wake in the middle of the night. I would shuffle into their room, praying as I went, for him to fall asleep quickly, so I could go back to bed. I remember so vividly rocking each of my babies back and forth, while humming a song to get them to sleep. I was forced to slow down, to be patient, and to do something for another person who was completely dependent on me.

It was amazing how the frustration and exhaustion would transform. It was still there but as soon as I looked at that sweet face in the glow of the nightlight and kiss those plump soft cheeks, I could feel myself changing! As I gazed down at my child, you might find tears streaming down my face from the mix of exhaustion and JOY.  If not for my children, I would never experience the juxtaposition of these emotions during such a precious moment.

Joy Filled Catholic

I wanted that tech to be an encouragement – but am I? Why do I sometimes assume the worst about people’s lives?

As my mind begins to marinate on the exchange I just described, I imagine that the lady (without kids, I am assuming) has a picture in her mind of how life sucking having children must be. She probably envisions kids running around wild, breaking vases, the mother screaming, while all the kids are shooting each other with silly string.

Meanwhile, I am picturing how lonely her life must be. Sitting in a darkened room that is bouncing with shadows and flashes of light created by the glow of the television. Each night, I imagine, she nestles in her recliner with a TV tray in front of her, while stroking one of her 15 cats and eating Chinese take-out straight from the box.

The truth is, when we don’t know someone’s life, we can only assume what we do not know, until we do – and even then we still don’t really know. What I mean is, that woman can’t possibly know the joy of parenting and all of the precious moments and love it provides and what it means when a parent says that their children are their life – and in turn, I don’t know how fulfilling all the activities and events she experiences without children truly are. After all, not everyone is called to marriage and family, and there can be extraordinary joy and great satisfaction in those vocations as well! I know, because I have seen it happen for people I know and love.

But do we have to know these things to love and encourage others? I don’t think so. We can love people right where they are and if being encouraging doesn’t come to us naturally, we can ask the Lord: “What can I do to be an encouragement to this person?”

So, what can I do? I can start by thinking positively about the person and their intentions, instead of assuming the worst.

Joy Filled Catholic

 

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Feeling Like an Outcast in God’s Family

www.joyfilledcatholic.com

You know that feeling you get, whether it is a big event, a meeting, or even just a conversation within a small group, when you suddenly think:

“What am I doing here? I don’t really belong. I don’t quite fit it.”

When I find myself in those situations, it feels a little awkward and uncomfortable. It is an unsettling feeling, which usually leads me to excuse myself and head for the door.

Now, let me ask you, have you ever felt that way as a member of God’s family? I know that I have! There are many times I observed other Christians living out their faith or attended church services, and though I desired to have that peace and blessed assurance, I never thought I would ever find it.

I would attend Mass with my mom infrequently. I would say all the things I had been taught to say, I would kneel, make the sign of the cross, and participate – but I felt like an outcast. I mean, I was there, but I didn’t feel like I really belonged – or that I was worthy to belong.

I even tried going to other churches to see how that “felt” but something was always a little (sometimes a lot) off for me. However, I did keep trying to find my place in God’s family. I admit that I didn’t try too hard, but I was seeking.

Once I finally realized that God wanted me back in the Catholic Church, there was no where else to go. Suddenly, I had an insatiable desire to know all about His Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the Bible. It is a fire that continues to burn inside of me today and I pray it will continue for the rest of my life!

What brought me back?

Not what, it was who! It was Jesus pursuing me with His mercy! He was relentless, compassionate, and loving. Every time I said,

Lord Jesus, I am not worthy. I have committed sins too terrible to truly be forgiven. I ignored every blessing you put before me to pursue what I wanted. I chased after all the things I thought would make me happy, complete, and adored. Instead, this pursuit has left me broken, anxious, and despising the person I have become. I can no longer live this way but I am still not worthy to be in your family. Lord, you see me. You know my sins. You know my heart. I think we can now both agree that I am not worthy.

But he did not agree! He did not agree with me at all.

I had a lot of work to do. But when I finally stopped running from him, because I was too ashamed to face him, I ran to Him and my life has never been the same. Once I realized and accepted that I had not ruined God’s plans for my life, everything changed. Yes, I chose a path that was a lot bumpier, and far more perilous, than it could have been if I had made better choices. However, the Lord showered me with graces that have made me the person I am today.

He has used those trials and suffering to bring about so much good in my life and he will surely do the same for you. If you are feeling like an outcast in God’s family, take heart! You are so loved by a Heavenly Father who knit you together in your mother’s womb and He knows you inside and out. He wants to shower you with His grace and mercy.

 

Journal idea: Are there times in your life when you felt like an outcast in God’s family? What changed that feeling for you? Who did God place in your life to plant seeds? How did He guide you back and show you how forgiving and merciful He truly is?

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