Thursday, July 8, 2010
"All hurt comes from no love." Fr. Stan Fortuna
I used to think I was really something when I was a public school mom. I spent hours attending PTA meetings, planning school parties, helping with the field days, volunteering in the classrooms and on field trips and most gruesome of all, picking through all 500 kids heads twice a year, looking for head lice.
Then one chilly February day, while hand stamping and tying ribbons and lace to over 100 homemade Valentine cards for my children's classmates, something hit me like a brick! I hated what I was doing! It was a big chore! Why should I make homemade Valentine cards for all of these kids who were going to eat the candy and throw the card in the garbage can? My work didn't mean anything to them! Why didn't I just go to the store and buy a box of SpongeBob Squarepants Valentines like all of the other kids gave to my children? I realized that the reason I hated what I was doing was because I wasn't doing it out of love, I was doing it out of pride. I walked around as if I was better than everybody else. "Look at me" I thought. "Here I am volunteering for everything, sending in homemade baked treats for every class party, trying to be supermom but none of these kids really care." The truth is, it wasn't that the kids didn't care, it was that I didn't care.
I was puffing up my pride with all of my activities, but I wasn't changing any hearts, because I didn't put any love into what I was doing. Yet I kept right on doing it, and I kept right on resenting it, and I kept right on soaking up the praise of the teachers and staff who fed my horrendous case of pride.
Then one day, I realized what a fool I was. As I was out on a run, I saw some girls who were having a rummage sale. I recognized them as former classmates of my son, Justin, who was in 7th grade at the time. As I ran past them I waved and called out "Good luck with your sale!" and I heard one of them call back "Up yours!" All those hours and hours that I spent pridefully working, thinking I could make a difference in the lives of the 500 children at that school, and I get an "up yours!" I suppose that was just what I needed to wake up and realize that it is impossible to change 500 lives at once. Maybe the lesson I needed was that it was time to slow down and focus on the only life I needed to change, which was my own.
"Where there is no love, put love." Mother Teresa
I realized that Jesus wasn't asking me to overhaul the school. He was only asking me to put a little bit of love into everything I do, because love is the only thing that would make a difference. Until I could do that, all of my efforts would be wasted because those children were wise, and they could see right through my facade and they knew that I didn't really care about them. Who could? Five hundred children are overwhelming to an ordinary overworked mother. But five children, my own,were definitely doable.
So, I pulled back. Paul and I removed our children from public school and enrolled them in our parish school. I greatly scaled back on my volunteer activities and homemade goodies. I worked on focusing on my own spiritual life and learned to pray for guidance from the Lord before volunteering to take on any additional tasks. I wanted to make sure that I followed the advice of Mother Teresa:
"What is important is not how many actions we perform, but the intensity of love that we put into each action."
I knew if I could do that, put my heart into all I did, that the benefits would outweigh my efforts and those I served would be uplifted rather than looked down upon.
I have learned that if I would simply take life one day at a time, and love one person at a time, the person that I happen to be with at the present moment, the changes to both my life and the lives of those around me will all be enhanced by the love of Christ. I'm a slow learner and I have a long way to go until I've learned that lesson well, but I know that with prayer, God will use me to put love and remove the hurt that surrounds me.