By Kathleen Billings
While attending a First Communion party at a friend’s farm this past weekend, my 3-year-old son, Anthony, meandered around the rather large property. To ensure his safety, I trailed along in heels (what was I thinking?!) As I attempted to keep up with him, I reflected on the great lengths we go to as parents and the sacrifices we make, to protect our children. In that moment, I was keenly aware that I would be dreadfully sore from wandering all over the farm in heels as my son explored and I followed.
Anthony eventually strolled into one of the many barns on the farm. Once inside, he discovered a small box of tiny newborn kittens. As my son dashed towards the box to pet them, the mama cat scurried from another part of the barn and jumped on top of her babies to protect them! My heart skipped a beat as I realized God was speaking to me – what I witnessed, was exactly what I was reflecting on just moments before. It is innate in all living creatures to protect their offspring because this is how God, our creator, cares for us. God sacrificed His only son to show us how much He loves us. When you stop and truly reflect on this, it is overwhelming!
Christ tells us, “….do not worry about your life………Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) Yes! We ARE more valuable than the birds of the air and the fish of the sea! We were created with a soul in the image and likeness of Christ.
Whenever I feel discouraged by the weight of a particular situation I find myself in, I am encouraged by this scripture. Just as I pursued my son all over the farm because I deeply love him, and I wanted to keep him free from danger, so too my Father in Heaven pursues and protects me because He deeply loves me – He created me! Does this mean that I will never fall or experience pain? Of course not. Since God gave us free will and because He is a loving Father who wants to grow our character and strengthen our virtue, we will experience pain and hardship. This does not mean that God stops caring for us. On the contrary, just like it pains a parent to watch their child suffer, it pains God to see us suffer. In His wisdom though, God knows that the crosses we bear in life, prepare and mold us to become the best version of ourselves, if we are open and allow Him to work through the suffering we experience.
Last summer my husband, Troy, discovered a Robin’s nest in our family vineyard. Since birds are considered predators and threaten to consume the fruit of the vine, Troy wanted the nest gone. Thankfully, he decided to wait until the baby robins were born before removing the nest from our vineyard. So, a few days after their birth and presumably when the robins were able and ready to flee the nest and fly, – Troy decided it was time. As he slowly removed it, the mother Robin literally tried to attack Troy. I (and I think most of the neighborhood!) – heard him screaming. I ran outside to see what all the fuss was about. Not only was the mother Robin “chasing” Troy, but she seemed to have gathered her “friends” – and they were all swarming around him. My poor husband – many lessons learned!
Beyond our new-found discovery that we should never disturb a nest that recently held new life, we realized that in trying to protect something that holds great value to us – our vineyard, my husband was literally attacked by predators wanting to innocently destroy our harvest. The wisdom I found in this whole ordeal was that the same way the Robin fiercely protected her young from the perceived danger of my husband, so also God protects us from evil that threatens to steal His precious life in our soul. Likewise, the way that Troy tried to protect our vineyard from predators, can be comparable to how we should protect our souls from outside threats that seek to damage our spiritual fruit -Christ’s life within us.
There are examples all around us of God’s Fatherhood, if we open our eyes and de-clutter our hearts. God wants to reveal His love to us in a myriad of ways. He waits on us to receive.
About the Author:
Kathleen Billings is married to her best friend, a mother of five beautiful blessings and three more souls in Heaven. She has a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Together with her husband, Troy, they began and direct a vibrant parish based Marriage Ministry called BAM – Building Amazing Marriages. Kathleen has a personal blog entitled seasonsoftheheartandhome.com where she writes about living her faith, in every season, as a wife and mother amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She is a regular blogger on marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website and is also a contributing author to the book “Amazing Grace for Mothers.” Kathleen has been an active Catholic speaker for the past 20 years – speaking at days of recollection, retreats for women, retreats for married couples, evenings of reflection and women’s groups.
Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Billings. Used with permission. All rights reserved. http://www.seasonsoftheheartandhome.com