A Mother’s Blemished Hands: Thoughts on Motherhood to Start 2019

Happy New Year!

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Theotokos – as the Mother of God… celebrating the Church’s recognition of Jesus as both fully human, and also fully Divine.

The role of Mary is to point us and take us directly to her divine Son. Through her example of life, and her willingness to support her Son, we see the testimony and silent witness of living a motherhood for God. We recognize our children and their destinies, are molded by God, and they are shaped for their success by our motherhood.

If there is a feeling of pressure when reading that last statement, I dare say that’s a good thing.

At the end of the day, motherhood isn’t about us… and, it isn’t about our children. Rather, it’s about doing what we see in Mary’s example – constantly pointing back to the Divine Creator.

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Society has a skewed perspective of motherhood. Children are seen as an extension of the mothers, and often, mothers internalize the pressure. They blame themselves for falling short of Pinterest-perfect motherhood, or for losing their cool, or for not doing enough – or, doing too little – for their children. Mothers in society are damned if they do… and, damned if they don’t.

I was recently watching a mini-series about the Holy Family on Formed.org – a “Catholic Netflix,” if you will. The mini-series explored some of the ostracization Mary would have felt, being a young, unwed, pregnant woman – and, the shame the young, newly married Mary and Joseph would have experienced, as “everyone” knew of Mary’s pregnancy before marriage. What struck me the most through the entire scenes of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, through the time of Jesus’ birth, is the trust Mary had to have felt in God’s plan.

Through significant period of Jesus’ life, we see that trust modeled in His blessed mother:

  • Not comprehending what Archangel Gabriel explained about “how” she would come to be pregnant, but still willing to accept the role of Mother of God.
  • As she waited for Joseph to embrace her, fully believing what he is told by an angel in a dream.
  • When she follows Joseph, first for the census, and then to avoid Herod’s murdering soldiers.
  • At the dedication of Him at the temple, when she is warned by Simeon that her heart will be pierced.
  • As she instructs the servants – and, in turn, each of us – to, “Do whatever He tells you,” encouraging Jesus to step into His public ministry.
  • When she meets Him on the road to Calvary, powerless to stop her only Son from being tortured to death.
  • At the foot of the Cross, handing her divine Son into the Hands of our Creator.
  • As she supports and assists the apostles when, while grieving, tongues of Fire – the Holy Spirit – descend and a universal Church is born.

Throughout the Bible, we are given intimate insight into the power of motherhood, not just from Mary, but many other women. We see motherhood build magnificent powerhouses of faith and love.

But, we also see this growth can only occur with trust in God’s plan for our children.

I once heard somewhere that we have all been marked with the seal of Mary – we have all been entrusted to her care. Whomever was speaking encouraged those listening to find their mark on the palm of their hand… and, on the palm of their children’s hands. To best showcase this, I have filtered the palm of my hand for clarity. Can you find your seal?

The lines could be an M for Mary. But, for mothers, it can also be a gentle reminder of our role in life – not to live our dreams through our children, but to teach them and lead them to live the dreams for God’s purpose and will.

It is an M… for motherhood – physical or spiritual.

It is an M… as a reminder of a woman who loves with unwavering trust in God’s plan.

It is an M… for reassurance that God’s plan is infinitely greater than anything society tries to dictate.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will know that I have embarked on the 12 Year Prayers of St. Bridget. Most of the moments of Christ’s life that are reflected upon in those prayers, include an offering, “through Mary’s unblemished hands…”

Mary, through her yes to God, ushered in a Savior of the world. Through her selfless, courageous act, she crushed the head of Satan. Through her trust in God, she ensured Jesus accepted God’s call in His fully human, fully divine life.

Her obedient trust in God created unblemished hands of motherhood.

Unlike Mary, as a mother, my hands are blemished. I am quick to lose my temper, I am quick to raise my voice, I am quick to eschew motherly duties (i.e. laundry, cooking, etc.) to peruse Facebook. I routinely tune out the little voices God has entrusted to my heart and care. Rather than holding all things in my heart, I am quick to take my children for granted, allowing seemingly small incidences to quickly build into annoyances. 

Yet, this year, 2019, I will seek to cleanse my hands a little better. Through prayer, through actions of love, and through trust in God’s plan – not just for myself, but also for my children – I will work on turning the blemishes into holiness.

2019, I will grasp the hands of my children with more intention, more purpose, more dedication as I remember to try to lead them to God through my own words and deeds.

My hand, holding the palm of my own daughter's hand - an unblemished hand of motherhood, holding the unblemished hand of innocence. #beautifulcamouflage

I ask that you pray for my success…

I ask Mary, the Mother of God to pray for my success…

And, I ask – will you join me?

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