Watch What God Can Do
by Maria Peceli
Today, I read an 'e-loop' posting from a woman who had received a negative comment from a neighbor. The neighbor couldn't understand why she was homeschooling and had her five children with her constantly.
The neighbor is a divorced, single woman with four children and a live-in boyfriend. I'm sure her pressures in life are tremendous. I'm sure her choices don't please her and that she may not even realize that some of them are her choices. There is probably so much conflict in her own life, that she thinks that that conflict would continue constantly if her children were always home - does she feels trapped by her life and is seeking an escape? Is that what she thinks school is for?
I don't know. I - like the woman from the e-loop - am on the receiving end of negative comments almost daily. I'm sure that not all of the comments are meant with any maliciousness, "Oh, you have your hands full..." still they are irritating.
And yet, I think this is the cross of everyone of us who has made the choice to live counter-culturally and has been blessed by God with children. I get comments wherever I go and I am floored by what people think is acceptable conversation. We have 4 children, 5 and under. When my fourth was born, my oldest was still 3. You can imagine the comments, the head shakings, the "Elvis-looking" lips of disbelief and disapproval...
And through the grace of God, all four of my precious treasures were overdue despite difficult pregnancies.
And, all of them were BIG, PLUMP, HEALTHY BABIES!!!
and...NONE of them were "supposed" to be here according to my husband's doctors. You see, when my husband was nine years old, he had cancer. Went through radiation. Went through chemo. Lost his hair. At the age of 11, he was told that he would "maybe" have a 2% chance of having children. I don't know if he understood those words or not at that age, but in retrospect...WOW! It was a devasting blow.
So, whenever I get the look, the whispers or the comments, I charitably mention this story to show that whatever we might think, we are NOT in charge. Of course, most people in my situation don't have this story and frankly, it isn't even anyone's "busy"ness, but I use it because there is a GOD... and I want to remind people of that. So, I think to myself, "I'm planting seeds with my words and reactions and I have to be kind despite how their words hurt." It's called a dry martyrdom.
When I was expecting my second and was close to delivery, I took Isabella (who was 11 months old) with me to my weekly doctor's appointment. I was on the elevator going up when a man about my age, stepped in. Immediately he said, "Oh, two in diapers . . . big mistake." I just smiled and told him about the cancer story. He was quiet the rest of the ride . . . did I give him food for thought? Has he thought of it since?
A friend of mine with eight children once told me a story of a man out with his five children. When another man stopped him and said, "Are they all yours?" naturally, the man replied in the affirmative. Then he turned the question on the inquirer and said, "How many do you have?" He replied, "Two." Well, the man with the five children sincerely said, "Oh, I'm sorry."
When the Bible tells us that we reap what we sow, we must be sober about that. Our responses and reactions matter. It is exactly what Gandalf says to Frodo during "The Lord of the Rings", "...It is not for us to decide...all we must decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
Let us pray for Our Lord to work through us and in spite of us. If my husband and I were blessed with four children who weren't supposed to be here, were conceived and delivered so close in age despite my husband's health history and the fact that the pregnancies were difficult, and can temper my tongue to be charitable in times when I want to scream . . . God CAN do anything.
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