I have this persecution complex. It dates back to the days when I was engaged to an atheist and I knew I had no business being so. But despite the nudges from my conscience, I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) break it off.
Ever since then, any time I’ve been involved with something I love, I get this niggling feeling of guilt. As if the simple fact that it’s something I want to do means it’s automatically something I shouldn’t.
Mothers in general are highly susceptible to feelings of inadequacy. We never do enough. We never keep our tempers under stress the way we think we should; we never juggle the responsibilities properly–we always, always measure up as less than in our own minds. And judging other mothers–an activity in which we all participate, whether or not we admit it–adds to our own sense of being Not Good Enough.
Imagine me, then, admitting at last that I am no longer a stay-at-home mom, but a work-at-home mom. Guilt steps up and starts poking me with pinprick pincers. If I didn’t write, my house would be cleaner, and I’d spend more time doing “mom” things with my kids, so that when my three-year-old went for a DIAL screening he didn’t get marked down for not being able to use a scissors. Surely I’d do better with faith formation, and Julianna would be farther along the path to speech, so they wouldn’t think she has to spend two-thirds of her time in a self-contained classroom. I wouldn’t get mad when they fight and break things, because I’d be there to arbitrate and redirect. Right?
Obviously, then, I must not be doing what God has in mind for me. I’m being selfish by pursuing a writing career, however humble. My vocation as a mother should stand pristine, undiluted, in the center of my life, and anything that distracts me is Not. God’s. Will, even and perhaps especially if I enjoy it.
Like I said: persecution complex.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, with an Old Testament reading from Isaiah:
The Lord God has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
It seemed a beautiful affirmation. And then it seemed sacrilegious to hear any word meant for me in a passage referring to Jesus.
I am beginning to realize that I may never know for sure that what I think is God’s will for me, actually is. I just have to muddle along as best I can, and accept that rock-solid certainty is not a commodity I’ll ever have in abundance. And in the end, maybe that’s okay. Because as long as I don’t know for certain, I keep seeking. And as long as I am seeking, I don’t become complacent.