By Heidi Hess Saxton
In today’s responsorial psalm (Psalm 69), we read the words of a heartbroken leader.
“Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for consolers, not one could I find.”
Throughout our lives, we are called to fulfill many different roles: daughter and mother, sister and friend, leader and follower. Not all these hats will fit comfortably on the head. In fact, some of these roles will reveal in new and unsettling ways some of our most glaring faults, our human foibles and weaknesses, and the flaws that God most needs to root out of us in order to make us ready for heaven.
For me, it was motherhood. It wasn’t until we brought our first (and only) sibling group home from the agency that I was confronted with the reality that I am one of the most hot-tempered and impatient people on the planet. After only a week of sleepless nights, I was reduced to such a sorry mess that the kids would see me coming and run from the room, shrieking
“Mommy monster! Mommy monster!”
Well, Sarah didn’t run. She just kicked her feet in the baby seat and burbled. But I could tell she could see right through me. Over time, we worked out an understanding, and fifteen years later (yipes), I can look back and laugh. But it wasn’t funny at the time. At. All.
Now, of course, I face different challenges … ones that makes today’s psalm very relatable. The kids don’t shriek “Mommy Monster” anymore, but they are quick to point out my every little flaw with heartbreaking insults, just the same.
“You tell ME not to yell, but here you are yelling at me!” (I was?)
“My FRIENDS all get to wear nose rings to school. You are just SO twentieth century!” (Indeed. Guilty.)
“I’m HUNGRY, and you never give me snacks!” (Oh, so the fruit bowl, yoghurt cups, and pretzel sticks don’t qualify?)
And then there’s the queen of all insults: “Just two more years and I can go live with my REAL MOM!”
Heartbreaking, for both of us. It’s the storm of a broken heart, who even after all this time (and therapy) still connects in a very primitive way to her first mother and pushes me out into the cold. It’s the self-centered cry of a normal teenager, who wants to cut the bonds of dependency, and who idealizes the unknown.
Most of all, it’s one more opportunity to brace myself and let God do his work, enlarging my heart to see not just my snarky teenager and her sullen brother, but all the versions and roles they will play throughout their lives — and to trust that God has a plan for them, just as he has for me.
Jesus, I trust in you.
About the Author:
Heidi is a wife and adoptive mother, contributing writer to WINE, and author of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the follow-up companion, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant, released January 2017). Heidi received a graduate degree in theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 2012, having converted to the Catholic faith in 1995 from the evangelical tradition. She met her husband, Craig, at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club, and lives with her family (including two special-needs teenagers, a longsuffering Aussie shepherd and a snuggly Chiweenie) near South Bend, Indiana.