I have a 6th grader who often thinks out loud, asking hypothetical questions…not to anyone in particular.
“Is it possible to fail successfully?” he blurted out as he was getting ready to correct his Math homework.
I thought that was an interesting question. It stuck with me for the next couple of days.
Some major life decisions Gary and I have faced lately actually forced me to reflect back on the life we have chosen together for both our marriage and our family. I gave a talk today to a group of parents and told them that we were pretty radical…so much so that some people really don’t understand why we would go against social norms.
From choosing courtship over dating to saving our first kiss for the altar…from forgoing a reception after our wedding to having Gary quit his job and stay home with the kids. We use natural family planning instead of artificial contraception. We home-school our children. We’re having our 4th baby in October, above the average 1.86 children in each American household.
As crazy as all of this may sound to others, we have been very grateful for God’s graces that help us appreciate the simple things in life and nurture our relationships with the time and attention they require. It is true that we could be earning a lot more money than we do. We could be taking exotic vacations, driving expensive cars, or living in a luxurious house if we just took a different path.
But as Fr. Craig said to me recently with a grin from ear to ear, “We are called to be fools for Christ, Marianne. The world will not always accept or appreciate why we do what we do, but the important thing is knowing that we are doing God’s will.”
I do not stand in criticism over families who are well-to-do and are given opportunities to use their wealth according to God’s plan for their lives. To each is given blessings and responsibilities that accompany them. However, in the eyes of those who solely base success on material growth, we have failed. Considering their perspective, I believe we have failed successfully.
Our marriage is healthy…our kids are happy…and they know Our Lord. Their education also is coming along quite nicely, thanks to Dad’s supervision and guidance. Even as I type this, our 2-year-old boy is going through his sisters’ reading book and pointing out all the letter sounds he has learned.
Our life is by no means perfect, nor is it easy. It surely is not a cookie-cutter model for all families to follow. Yet each step of the way, God sets His word before us as a light unto our path showing us which direction to take. We can only be obedient to His call because only He knows what is in store for us and each one of our children. The foundation we are laying for them will prepare them for their vocations, for their careers, and for Heaven. We must also believe that our efforts will sanctify us and purify our own hearts to be formed and molded more and more into God’s likeness. And that is what matters the most.
To be honest with you, I would absolutely LOVE to spend a few weeks in Hawaii or go traversing all over Europe. But the reward will come someday, after the daily grind is over and I have done my part as a wife and mother. Jesus promises eternal paradise to each one of us…final rest in the Father’s loving arms…with no worry in the world…if we are simply faithful to Him and His commandments.
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place