As I recall the beautiful story of Mary visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, on this Feast of the Visitation, my soul is reminded of the blessing of community and sisterhood.
My heart for this blog and website stems from these scriptures as I desire to foster the sharing of the depth of hearts between women.
The incredible urgency of Mary in running to be with Elizabeth, the months they spent together sharing in the gift of new life and praising God for the good things He had done with them – all themes that I hope can be encouraged for us as women moving forward in relationships.
Ironically, the reason for Mary and Elizabeth’s visit was to share in their pregnancy joy – which is not something I personally can relate to – however, I believe the Lord put this encounter on my heart for a reason.
Let’s break it down:
1. Upon receiving a new vocation/calling, specific to her giftings – she hurries to share her heart…
2. Upon accepting this blessing of the Lord incarnate within her being – she hurries to share her joy…
3. Upon hearing of her relative/friend in need – she hurries to share the load…
There are incredible themes of vulnerability, loyalty and love here. This is what the Lord asks of us women in and through our relationship with Him, but also with other women in our lives. These instances are what I can relate to with Mary and her visitation.
The visitation was so important in scripture that Catholics created a feast day for it and incorporated it into the rosary meditations. This shows how important it should be in our daily lives!
It forces me to ask myself – how much of this is true in my relationship with other women close to me? When was the last time I hurried to share my heart with another sister?
I can honestly say that as an introvert, this can often, at times, be difficult for me. Whether it stems from insecurities of not believing what I have to say matters that much, or fear of burdening the other person with my problems, or that my sharing would just be waaaaay too much for someone to bear. But I think at the core, it comes down to fear of rejection.
Sharing what truly is on my heart at any moment forces me to 1) accept I am not perfect, 2) find words to communicate it, and 3) trust the other person will accept me after I share this with them. All of these things do not make me hurry to share my heart with someone. Yes, when there is good news in my life – it’s fairly easy to call my closest friends and share! However, when there is trial and struggle, this becomes more difficult.
Unless…I look at it through the lense of God.
The reason Mary visited Elizabeth was not to just tell her that she was pregnant with the Lord of the universe through the Holy Spirit and to support each other and bond through their pregnancies. The reason Mary visited Elizabeth was to proclaim God’s faithfulness in her situation. It was to give credit to God and did not have anything to do with her feeling accepted.
Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:45
This encourages my heart to share with other sisters not just “my daily life updates” but to take it a step deeper and share what God is doing and how God is moving in my life. The Lord is fulfilling His promises to us everyday, ladies. Why is it hard to see? Why is it hard to share these blessings with each other? Why is it hard for me to see God’s faithfulness even in trial?
God, grant in me an urgent desire to share your faithfulness with others in my life. Grant me the grace to believe that your promise to me is true and to rejoice with others in this truth! Grant me the ability to see how you are faithful even in suffering and struggle. I resolve to focus on You and Your goodness instead of my suffering, my problems and my life. Let me run to share Your goodness and how you are being fruitful right now in and through me as Your daughter and not refrain from sharing out of fear of rejection. You do not reject me and Your truth is worth proclaiming in my life. Amen.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend about our vocations. She, a recently married women, married later in life to a healthy man and now pregnant with their first child. And me, a married woman of five years to a chronically ill man, with no children. There could have been a focus on differences between us throughout the conversations and feelings of being misunderstood because we were in “different phases in life.” However, this wasn’t the case. Instead, we chose to focus on the similarities in our situations and to be grateful for where the Lord had us in our individual lives.
These similarities do exist. You may have to go digging for them.
One of the similarities that we discussed was that we were both women, chosen daughters of God to live out His will in this world, at this time. There is so much here to digest with another sister. Why is it a struggle for me to discuss this more often with women? It brings me to tears just letting this sink in – this should be the most important thing to my heart, this is the reason I exist – however, it’s a struggle to allow this to be enough most days.
This is our reality: to know, to love, to serve God.
Another topic of conversation was our vocations. We both had experience in Christian/Catholic circles, in various ministries, formation and also the professional world. We’ve been talked with, preached at and prayed for at different times over the years regarding the topic of vocation.
So much so that for me, this had become quite the glorified ‘false’ idol.
When I was single, I longed for this moment when God would present me with my vocation. I anticipated it at every turn and contemplated it at night falling asleep. When? Who? How? It was as though I began to desire the vocation itself more than God Himself. If I’m honest, I began to think once I “arrive” at my vocation, then…THEN…I will experience my true self, true joy and true completion.
This did not happen. In fact, it was the opposite because I had this hope and expectation that it would be so amazing that my disappointments were felt even more intensely. Marriage was not the end for me.
Then came the expectation and hope for children, for a complete family. Ok, Lord, if marriage isn’t my true joy and completion, then having children and becoming a mother will be! I thought that this would at least come into fruition. I may have been mistaken about my vocation of marriage, so it must be my vocation as a mother. This is how your will is going to play out in my life and this is where I will arrive at my vocation.
Maybe I was wrong the whole time. Just maybe I didn’t have a clue how this whole vocation thing worked. Maybe I was receiving mixed messages, or perceived certain formative teachings to be truth for everyone. “The order of vocation of marriage for a Catholic woman is: courtship, marriage, multiple healthy pregnancies and babies. The end.” The breakdown of this premonition slowly transitioned from a teaching I learned and believed, to the case for most women I knew, to “why not me, what’s wrong with me?”, to “I deserve this too!”, to interiorly grasping or forcing, to anger and resentment at my husband and at God, then myself.
This idol of the vocation of marriage and motherhood that I’ve created within has now fallen off the pedestal of my heart.
I was so exhausted from holding it there on top for several years, forcing it to be true for me. Because it’s not, nor it may never be. Visually placing this image in my mind is helpful for my heart and head to move towards acceptance of my reality, of the will God has for my reality.
He steps into to gently say, “My will is beyond what you could ever imagine. Why do you trust in false idols, instead of trusting in Me? I came to break you free from false idols. I came that you might have Life, and have it in Me.”
Through prayer, I quickly realized that this idol of vocation didn’t just fall off the pedestal in my heart, the Lord pushed it off. Just as He overturned the tables in the temple: “They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves…then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’?” – Mark 15:11, 17
Those people had a false sense of security by selling their goods in a place of worship, just as I had found a false sense of security in my vocation. I realized that His heart and will for me was to be with Him, in all things. And to make Him my idol.
Because when I experienced Him on that pedestal, that is where I experience TRUE joy and TRUE completion because it doesn’t matter what my vocation is, or how many children I have or if my husband is healthy or not, or any of the concerns of my heart. With Him, and only Him alone, is where I know I am truly loved AS I AM. And my heart can accept this truth.
I choose Him and only Him, because I choose to trust Him. And if I truly trust Him, then I have to trust what He brings into my life and what He doesn’t. I have to trust Him over myself. I have to trust that if the answer is ‘no’ or ‘not yet,’ there is a reason for that and He may be protecting me from something I do not know about. Admitting that my vocation was a false idol in my heart was the first step to acceptance. Because now, I do not want it there, I give the Lord permission to knock it off the pedestal every day.
My prayer for you is that you can experience freedom and acceptance in your lives over false idols, that you have the grace to admit what those idols are, and be open to what the reality of God’s will is for you!
My Lord, I offer you my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.
I want to do what you ask of me: In the way you ask, For as long as you ask, Because you ask it.
Lord, enlighten my understanding, Strengthen my will, Purify my heart, and make me holy.
Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses and to grow stronger as a Christian.