hashtag blessed

18 Jul

I see this all the time. People who are all “God answers prayers!” and hashtagging photos with things like #miracles and #blessed and all that. And I can’t help myself, I roll my eyes.

Wait, no, let me explain. It’s not that I think it’s all hooey. Far from it. I’m actually quite the Catholic girl. My one and only tattoo? Is a linear version of St. Brigid’s Cross. Because #irishcatholic

The St. Brigid's Cross tattoos the husband and I got before leaving Ireland

The St. Brigid’s Cross tattoos the husband and I got before leaving Ireland

But I see these people who are always talking about how God answers prayers, God is a healer, God performs miracles, and I wonder…what must they think of us? I mean, if praying to God fixes things in their life, what am I doing wrong? Why is Maura still the way she is? Why didn’t God answer my prayers with her?

I wonder, do they all thing I’m not praying right? That I’m not a good enough Christian? I mean, back in the day, if you had a child with some sort of problem, it was seen as a punishment from God for the sins of the parents. Do they think my child’s health status is because of a lousy prayer life? That I should find Jesus and have a talk with Him about things, and then poof! My daughter is healed?

Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe I don’t believe enough. Because God knows – KNOWS – I’ve had more than a few conversations with Him over my daughter. Somehow, my desperate pleas of “Please God, don’t let it be epilepsy.” went unheard as I drove her to the doctor after her first grand mal seizure. As did my prayers of “Please God, let THIS doctor have an answer for us.” Nothing but radio silence and more “We don’t know what causes your child’s disabilities.” from the doctors.

Obviously it’s because I’m doing something wrong, right? Because other people are #blessed and #seeingmiracles all over the place. We know, because they hashtag the crap out of their posts when they give their #praisereports.

Or maybe it’s because I don’t believe in Santa God. I don’t believe God’s up there going “You went to church every Sunday Pauline, you get all the blessings…as for you Peter, oh, I checked my naughty list, no blessings for you. You didn’t pray hard enough.” I just don’t think it works that way.

Also, maybe it’s because, well, I don’t feel like my child’s a burden. I think she’s a fabulous person, full of joy and life, who gives back so much love to us. Maybe I’ve already accepted my daughter and all her disabilities as perfect in her own way. The way God made her. Because God doesn’t make mistakes, right? Isn’t that what they say? So if I pray to God to “fix” her, I’m saying to God “Hey, you made a mistake here, can you correct it?” and then He’d be all “Oh, my bad, here you go.” and I can be all hashtag blessed with the #miracles.

But it doesn’t work that way. My faith life doesn’t work that way.

So why does all the hashtagging of blessed and miracles and answered prayers bother me?

Because…

Because it sort of implies, if just second-handedly, that my life isn’t as blessed. That my child isn’t as much of a blessing. That God doesn’t hear my prayers. That maybe I am not a “good enough” Christian, or the right type of Christian. It implies, just like all the intake forms I fill out for my daughter, that somehow maybe I’m to blame for the disabilities in my daughter’s life because I’m not praying hard enough. You may not say it, you may not even imply it, but when you’re all “Hooray! God helped me found my car keys. #prayerworks!” and I’m looking at yet more “We don’t know what’s wrong with your daughter, try again in two years.” paperwork, it’s a bit like sandpaper dipped in lemon juice on an open wound. Because if prayer works like that, then that means it was more important to God to help you find your car keys than to help me find a diagnosis for my daughter.

Luckily, as I have stated, my faith doesn’t work that way. I’m kinda old school Irish Catholic, “Ah well, it could be worse” kind of gal, with a dash of superstition and a whole lot of optimism. I don’t think God plays favorites, or doles out answers to prayers like participation trophies at the end of a suburban soccer season. I don’t think I’ve been abandoned, and I do believe the Lord works in mysterious ways because I’m never quite sure why things go a certain way.

Or maybe I just don’t need to hashtag my faith life. Unless it’s a #helpMaurameetPopeFrancis – because the Pope is awesome, and I think he and Maura would get on like a house on fire and that much happiness in the world brought together may just bring that peace you’ve been praying for.

Maura on her First Communion

Maura on her First Communion

 

 

Look for the helpers

9 Jul

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – See more at: http://www.fredrogers.org/parents/special-challenges/tragic-events.php#sthash.XBU6u5IM.dpuf

 

This quote from Mr. Rogers has, sadly, become something we’ve shared a lot recently. And sometimes, it’s hard, hard to find the helpers. They are out there, in the form of a nurse, a parent, a good Samaritan, a fellow human being, but dang if they aren’t getting overshadowed.

But then, this article from the site Scary Mommy came through my feed. In the middle of the horror in Dallas, people did what they always do – prove that there is more good than bad in the world. And someone took a photo of it.

The image was of a group of adults, circling around a baby stroller, forming a shield around the stroller with their bodies.

A man named Nate Homan posted it with these words – ”

In the middle of the horror, in the wake of nightmare, amid the outrage and the call to arms is this moment of humanity: People, black and white, surrounded a baby stroller in Dallas as the gunfire broke out. This is the better nature of our angels. This is who we are and who we should strive to be.

I got this photo from @Khanoisseur he brought this to my attention. All the props in the world.”

I can count at least five adults in that photo. Five adults doing what they need to do to protect the little ones in their midst, their most vulnerable.

And I could hear Mr. Rogers speaking – “Look for the helpers.”

There they are. The helpers.

That night, there was one person out for destruction. One person with a selfish, awful agenda. But in that crowd he fired upon, there were so many more good people, of all colors, of all backgrounds, law enforcement and citizens, all doing what they could to protect others from this one person who let hate win.

These people didn’t let hate win.

And that’s why I have to believe hate will never win. Because there are too many of the helpers out there. The mom who shielded her son from bullets in a nightclub in Orlando. The cop who paid for the diapers a desperate couple tried to shoplift. The men who started a lawncare service for those unable to tend to their own lawns. The people who simply asked how they could help us when my daughter was caught in a meltdown spiral at Target.

They are out there, the helpers. They react with kindness and compassion, they react with love and unselfishness. Sometimes, they are overshadowed by the hate of one person, but if you look past all the hate, you will see they are there. They always have been, and they always will be.

 

Another light-bulb moment for mom

8 Jul

Yesterday morning, Maura decided she didn’t want to get on the bus. I was all “GET ON THE BUS!” but she was having none of it.

I didn’t know why. She’d been asking about “class” since school ended. She got all excited about summer school (aka, ESY, aka extended school year) starting. She was nothing but happiness and smiles getting on and off the bus for two days.

But day three, it all went south.

Day three, I woke up to terrible headlines and upset friends, and because I’m a human with feelings, I felt them. I was all twisted up by the news, and by friends who were saddened and upset and frightened by the news.

And Maura refused to get on the bus.

I will admit, I yelled at her as she screamed at me. “No!” I shouted. “Enough!” I had asked for words, asked her what she wanted, was bending over backwards to her whims, but she spiraled downwards and I dove in with her.

I realized after we had both calmed down that maybe…maybe my mood had affected hers.

I told this to Josh that evening. “She is an empath.” he said. He’s totally right, and it’s not news to me. When Maura has cried because I yelled at her sibling. Maura will cry at movies. Maura’s emotions are big and strong and loud and open. When she’s happy, it’s contagious. When she’s sad, it’s heartbreaking.

The thing is, I think she gets it from me. I feel too much sometimes, which is hilarious if you know me and know how close I keep my feelings to myself. Maura is an emotional volcano of sorts, bursting with feelings. I’m more of an emotional jelly doughnut. I stuff all those feelings inside, and look a bit bland from the outside.

And yet there we were this morning, one empath feeding off the other. My daughter – MY daughter – feeling my emotions. I was spiraling, and I took her with me. I was frazzled, and she couldn’t figure out why.

We spent the day just sort of laying low. She played with dolls. I read a book. We both settled ourselves. I said “Hey, let’s watch a show.” finally. She put on pj’s and climbed into bed with me at 3 pm. I laughed because she was dressed for a pajama party. She tucked me in. I gave her arm some squeezes. We were happy and balanced again.

Today I had a light bulb moment. I need to get my anxiety, my emotions, in control so that I don’t take Maura down with me. My older three, they’ve always been amazing with me. I mean, how many teens ask “Are you okay Mom?” because they see I’m in a mood. I remember one time, years ago, I had a migraine. I put little Maura down for a nap, and told the older three to behave, watch tv, I needed to take a nap myself because my head hurt. I woke up to the smell of burning popcorn. Because the older three conspired to make me popcorn on the stovetop, because I liked popcorn. I couldn’t even be mad. Sure, the house smelled horrible, and the pot had to be thrown away because it was two inches of burnt on the bottom of the pot, but dang it if I don’t smile at the thought of my kids trying to make me some popcorn because I had a headache.

In a way, because those three have been so very awesome, I’ve grown a bit lazy in the mom department. I let these moods set precedence. No, that’s not right. I guess I’ve allowed these moods to be shown more. But I’m wondering, how are they affecting that fourth child of mine, the one who is so much like me in so many ways? The one who feels all the feels, like me?

And once again, one of my kids is challenging me to be the best that I can. Dang these kids of mine, who are growing into amazing human adults. And for the record – that is not part of the light bulb moment. My kids have always amazed me. Each one of them. Maura just likes to prove that after twenty years of parenting, I still have lessons to learn.

 

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