What we do is never about us…
I was praying the joyful mysteries at Adoration. As I prayed, I was struck by the fourth Joyful Mystery, which is the Presentation in the Temple…and the fruit of this mystery, which is obedience!
Earlier that day, I had received an email from a homeschool mom asking for advice about disciplining her children, having them listen to her, helping siblings to get along with each other, and dealing with family anger issues.
In other words, she really asked about obedience!
However, why does obedience have such a nasty taste in our mouths?
Your kids taste it when you ask them to do their school work or chores, without complaint. You taste it when you have to make dinner or plan a curriculum, or deal with siblings fighting, for the umpteenth time today!
But why does obedience have such a nasty taste when it is so closely tied to LOVE?
We all want and crave the good feeling of getting along and peace in our homes!
Furthermore, we are all wired for connectivity, and as such God placed us in families.
On purpose, He placed us with the exact people in our unique family. Without that beautiful desire to love each other, to want to get along, we would not know dying to self. He knew that suffering comes from love and we poor creatures have a really hard time making that connection.
Back to that meditation…and the question:
Why is obedience the fruit of the mystery, the Presentation of the Lord?
Looking closely at Scripture, we see that it was out of obedience that Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the Temple. It is the fulfillment from the prophet Malachi.
“Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts”. Malachi 3:1
Similarly, in St. John Paul II’s REDEMPTORIS MATER, which is about the Blessed Mother and the life of the Church, he describes how the entire passages of Jesus’s announcement and birth, through to the presentation, is the story of Mary’s “obedience of faith.”
“Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.”
I find that super hard to read and much harder to live!!
However, God gives us the answer!
Your family is the haven of peace and obedience He created. Let us begin to think of our homes as the domestic church God gifted us with and in it dwells LOVE, the author of LOVE, and the Mother He gave us to guide us.
Finally, St. John Paul II goes on… “The Mother of that Son, therefore, mindful of what has been told her at the Annunciation and in subsequent events, bears within herself the radical “newness” of faith: the beginning of the New Covenant. This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful Good News.”
Of course, we all want peace in our homes, and dare I say even in our homeschools.
We desire obedience from our kids. We set boundaries and hand out a family rulebook, BUT we need to do this only through LOVE and continually asking ourselves:
“What kind of obedience am I asking of myself and children?”
If it is to be an obedience of faith, like Mary’s, then expect to walk side by side in suffering. Misunderstanding and suffering does exist in families. We all want to do what we want, when we want! Yet, we all know, all too well, that for the good of others we love, we cannot get what we want, when we want it. Period.
Does this mean, there are no practical tips for gaining obedience? Should we just suffer and give up? Absolutely not!
When my kids were very little, we surrounded them with love and as such surrounded them with the love of Christ. He is the center of our home and sits at our table for all our meals, guides our speech towards each other. We offered our day through petition at the beginning of each day by reading the gospel of the day, singing a hymn of praise and offered contrition and thanksgiving in each night’s prayers. We immersed ourselves in the lives of the saints and lived the liturgical year.
Were we perfect in our desire to live this Christocentric life? Heck no!
I lost it with my kids, slammed doors (broke that habit – thank God), and fought with my husband. However, we had TIME…yes, TIME to work all these things out because we homeschooled our children. We had to live with each other on a daily basis for many hours, learn from each other, and get along for the sake of the family!
The peace beyond all understanding.
There is no magic pill or miracle tip that will make it all better.
Yes, you should expect kindness. Yes, you should expect immediate obedience (no counting to 3 please, it just delays obedience). Remember to be patient, as we are all a work in progress. Be gentle with yourself, if you are often not patient or kind with family members. Sometimes it is best to remove yourself from the room, take a deep, long breath, and pray!
Recently at confession, our pastor said a lovely thing to me, “Leave the past to God’s mercy, and do not worry about the future, as it has not happened yet. Be present in the moment and give it to serving and loving Jesus in your family.”
Great reminder, right?
Here is another gem, a favorite verse that helps me refocus…
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7
Thank you homeschool mom! You share your heart with your family each and every day, giving that LOVE of Christ to the precious ones in your care. Keep Jesus close because He will take your crooked lines and make them straight!
May God bless your family abundantly! With love ❤️ Paola
Now it’s your turn. Comment below to share with us your thoughts on obedience!
Got a friend or fellow homeschool mom who can use encouragement, who would feel loved and supported by this message? Please share this post!
This is much easier to read, then to live out. The moments of love and kindness in our home are so few and far between. The children and sometimes even my husband don’t see what I’m doing as loving. Makes it hard to continue. And makes me wonder if it really is love for God and them .. or just pride that makes me continue to home school. Have I made it my god? Thank you though for your words of encouragement. I will ponder and pray on them as I live out just this day.
Thank you JBA for your heartfelt share! It is definitely a hard road filled with much dying to self and suffering! Every year I had to recommit myself to homeschooling, asking if it was the best fit and aligned with my “WHY” to homeschool. See my comments below, spousal unity and support has to be at the foundation!
I keep this prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, in my kitchen just to get me through the day. Most folks know the beginning BUT I LOVE the second part…speaks to my soul, and helps, hope it can bring comfort:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
I loved the beginning of this article. It gave me hope that there was a nugget of wisdom or some method I had forgotten in order to increase my childrens’ obedience. At one time I homeschooled. It was a battle with my husband and when I realized I had many dyslexic, ADHD children I set them to school. I could not overcome that many challenges alone. Now I am struggling to work on obedience. Actually, decreasing disobedience and tempers would be an improvement. But there isn’t any practical tip here. I hope you will follow this up with strategies you use or methods you have tried etc. Bless you for your vocation!
Thanks Christine for your kindness and prayers!
I am praying for you and know the goal is not to homeschool but to get ourselves to heaven, and guide our children a path to get themselves there too! Wow, you have such a full plate! I know you have a big heart too for your family!!
You raise a very important point, spousal unity and support! That is definitely the foundation to anything we do for our kids!
And you inspired me to begin writing a follow-up to this article, yay! Coming soon…