As we work to get out the door on the way to a friend’s house, the toddler trips for the twentieth time this morning and face-plants into the front door. I pick her up for a hug, wipe her runny nose, and make a halfhearted effort at soothing her, but mostly I want her to stop crying so we can leave. After she wails for a few minutes, my patience is gone and my irritation is on display for all three of my kids. We continue our journey and she finally stops crying when we arrive at our friends’ house. Inside my head I grumble at this everlasting drama queen of a child. When is she going to grow out of this? Comfort the sorrowful.
Inspired by the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy, I’ve been trying to focus this Lent on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Kendra at the Catholic All Year blog did a great post awhile back about living the works of mercy in the home – that was another inspiration for me – and she also has some great printables if you want a pretty list of the works of mercy to hang up in your house. Currently, I just have them written out on one of my preschooler’s drawings and tacked up on the fridge where I can see them frequently … I really need frequent reminders.
I woke up at six with the baby and worked on getting her “all nursed up” as we say around here. By the time she settled down, I was super hungry myself, but just as I was about to make my breakfast she needed to nurse again. Oh my gosh, why couldn’t she wait fifteen more minutes? Later that morning, after I got my older two girls dressed & ready for church, I finally went to get myself ready … but the baby woke up and wanted to nurse again. Oh my gosh, this is so obnoxious! Feed the hungry.
I used to work at a homeless shelter, and I often desire, keenly, to be back in that world in some way. I often wish I could do some volunteer work with my kids, but so far it hasn’t worked out for us. The reality of nap schedules, nursing babies, and unruly toddlers just doesn’t make it feasible. But over the past few years – over and over and over again – the Lord has shown me that I have quite a bit of work to do right in my own living room.
At the end of a long day with the kids, I’ve gotten stuck in some kind of frustration loop with one of them. She does something naughty, I attempt to correct her gently, she responds with defiance and disrespect, and “gently” goes out the window. I send her to the basement to play so we can both cool off – but only after I’ve already raised my voice at her several times. Bear wrongs patiently.
It’s a work in progress. Some days it doesn’t even seem like “in progress,” it’s just “work.” Ha! I am slow to improve, but at the very least, thinking about the works of mercy has helped me to see more clearly how often I fail … in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.
So, pray for me, to the Lord our God. I’ll pray for you too.
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
- Admonish the sinner
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Comfort the sorrowful
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive all injuries
- Pray for the living and the dead