I've written previously about how important it has been for me to find like-minded friends, friends who share my love for God and my Catholic faith, and for the teachings of the Catholic Church, even on "controversial" issues.
We often have other incidentals in common as well. Many of my friends also homeschool, also have big families, also stay home with their children. It's easy to begin to see those things as things that all "real" Catholics do too.
Especially since, for me, those things didn't necessarily come easily. I never would have thought I'd end up with a big family, but God keeps blessing us with children. I thought homeschooling was only for weirdos until it was the only thing that worked for our family. Up until after my first son already was born, I kept my options open for going back to work, because I wasn't sure I wanted to be a stay at home mom.
But I have come to believe that all of those things are an integral part of my vocation. I feel very deeply and strongly that those things are right for my family and they are helping me get to heaven. I had to make the (sometimes difficult) choices to follow what God had put on my heart, and I'm so glad I did.
It's taken me much too long, however, to fully recognize that MY vocation is not everyone's vocation. And that the mentality that we must all be just the same can be really hurtful to Catholics who are just as devout as I am, but are living out their own vocations -- which just happen to be different from mine.
There are women who would love to have a big family, but that's not the way it worked out for them. Or who would love to stay home with their children, but can't. Or who would love to homeschool, but are not able to do so. How terrible it would be if our Catholic community was making these mothers feel any worse as they do their best in a challenging situation.
But it's more than that. There are also devout Catholics who are open to life but are happily living out a vocation of one or two or no children. Because that's God's plan for them. There are devout Catholics who are called not to homeschool, but rather to start private schools that serve their community, or be a light to the public or private schools where they choose to send their kids.
I don't understand it myself, I couldn't imagine it for my own children -- but that's because it isn't MY vocation!
Saint Gianna Molla would probably have something to say about the idea that women who have children, even many children, can't also have a professional vocation.
I think that's what finally sold it for me. Glancing over at my four volume edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints and realizing that THAT is how many ways there are to do it right.
Because if the only way to get to heaven was to found a religious order or preach the gospel in foreign lands or die for my faith, I might be in trouble. But those are the ways other folks have made it to heaven. You never know what God will have in store for me, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be any of those things. I think I'm going to continue to be sanctified by trying to bend over a pregnant belly to pick up a baby spoon. Again. By changing diapers and wiping up after sick kids. By reading the same story for the 716th time. By homemaking and homeschooling and blogging.
That's my path, probably. But it's unlikely that yours is exactly the same as mine. It's hard for me to remember it always, especially when my own vocation seems so right to me and has born so much fruit in my own life. But God made us complementary, not the same. We need each other. We need our differences.
It's hard enough to be a mother and a Catholic and a Catholic mother without feeling that other Catholic moms might be giving you one of these:
Not cool. Let's not be that guy.
Hey, the cry room link-up is still open. Have a blog? Have an opinion? The world wants to know.