I’ve been trying to live my vocation as a mother more purposefully. This morning I was praying, “Lord, show me how to be a better mother to my children. Help me to listen to you when you present us with opportunities for growth. Help me to be present with them in the way they need me to be. Let me be like a reed in the wind, moving the way in which you want me to move, bowing to your touch.”
As I drank my coffee, I thought about my day and the things I needed to accomplish. I had it all planned out. My list was long but I thought I might be able to get through most of the items on my list if I really managed my time well.
Because as I was reviewing the things that I needed to get done, my son, who is really pumped up about the fact that I told him he’s now old enough to cook whatever he wants, decided he was going to make cupcakes.
Everyone knows what delightful little bites cupcakes are, but boy, are they a mess to make…and, it takes time to make them…time that I hadn’t factored into the schedule for the day.
My mind returned to my morning prayer, “Let me be like a reed in the wind…” Flexibility is not always my strong suit. I have to constantly wrap my head around things that don’t fit my plan and remind myself that it’s God’s plan – not mine. So, I wrangled with the fact that cupcake making was not on my list and helping him make them would mean that I certainly would not finish my list today.
We had a great time making the cupcakes and whipping up the frosting.
Then, without a moment’s notice, the blissful cooking bubble popped. My son disappeared for a moment and started yelling that his brother ate all of the candy from his bag. They had divided up a bag of candy yesterday and his brother had eaten both bags. He stomped back into the kitchen yelling that his brother would not be getting any cupcakes because he had already had enough sugar.
“OK. Calm down,” I said. The word “mercy” popped into my head.
“I know your brother doesn’t deserve cupcakes because what he did was wrong. He knew he shouldn’t have eaten your candy but he did anyway. But, you love him right? Have you learned about mercy in school?” I said.
“Yes,” he grumbled, under his breath.
“Giving him a cupcake even when he doesn’t deserve it is actually showing him mercy,” I said. “It’s kind of like when we sin. We know we shouldn’t do it and we do it anyway. Then we feel really bad. Then we go to confession and feel better because God forgives us – even though we don’t really deserve it. He forgives us because he really loves us, right?” I said.
“Yes,” he said. Still not totally convinced.
“If you share a cupcake with him, you get to show mercy,” I said. “You are showing him that you love him and forgive him even though he did something wrong.”
He perked up and started frosting the cupcakes. He started by putting one aside for his brother and then another and another. When his brother came in, he pointed to the plate full of cupcakes and said, “look at all of the cupcakes I made for you!”
His brother was both humbled and grateful.
It was a “teachable moment” that I could not have planned. The kids learned about God’s mercy, and had the opportunity to demonstrate and receive mercy.
I also learned, yet again, that God is ready and willing to answer our prayers, but that we’ve got to give Him room to move – we’ve gotta wrangle the will (lists included!) and hand it all over to Him. I’m reminded, time and time again, that it’s in those moments when we give it to Him, that we are given more than we could ever plan. As Blessed Mother Teresa used to put it, “He will fulfill it if I don’t put any obstacles in His way!”
“The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place…Love will be the whole syllabus.” – St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ