Life’s purpose

Thanks to 40daysforlifeUK for forwarding this testimony on to me from an inspirational Catholic blogger, who has attended many vigils with her young family.

Amongst the stream of comments today, came this little nugget.

“If going to your anti-choice rally with your toddler and your babybump gives you purpose then I’m glad, because I think you need it.”

Firstly, it’s a prayer-vigil, not an anti-choice rally. Secondly choice is not automatically a good thing. If the choice is to kill your child rather than treat it like the human being that it undeniably is, then in those terms, yes I am undoubtedly am anti-choice and proud.

Does my life lack purpose? The purpose of my life is to build a deep and lasting relationship with God. To love my God with all my heart and soul. That sentiment will inevitably give rise to bafflement, disgust and outrage amongst many who would question whether or not that may entail putting God before one’s family, no doubt giving rise to the whole extremist issue and the idea that I have this whole God thing entirely out of proportion.

The answer is deceptively simple. Our primary purpose is to love God, but also to discern how best we may serve him. This does not preclude loving one’s friends and family. The two are not mutually exclusive. What this means in essence is to love God and put his will and desires above our own.  All of us are seeking happiness as our ultimate goal. We have to give ourselves over to God, to do his will over that which might bring us momentary happiness. This love is not an emotional feeling, to love God as he wishes us to love him means a denial of self, it means to put his will above our own, regardless of how we might think, how we might feel or what we desire.

That seems beyond the bounds of comprehension for most people and a sign that things are surely out of perspective. Actually no, it is only by loving God and doing his will that he might help us to shape our desires and love appropriately.  St Augstine famously said “Love God and do what you will”. This is often misinterpreted along the lines of “have some affection, regard for God and then do as you please. The emphasis needs to be on the first two words. Love God and then he will form the shape and pattern of the rest of your live and in him will you find happiness.

To love God means to die to yourself. To lose your sense of self. Not to become a mindless robot, but to set aside all our own thoughts, desires, emotions and desires that are contrary to God’s. Motherhood/Parenthood is an excellent example of this. Being a mother of a young baby or child entails that you have no other choice than to put yourself second the majority of the time. Your child’s needs intuitively and instinctively come first. You die to yourself. How many mothers find themselves playing endless games of tea-parties and pretend cooking and generally doing things that they would really rather not, in order that their child might benefit. At times motherhood can be a thankless task, changing the nappy of a screaming infant, or reading “that’s not my bear, it’s nose is too fluffy…look…bear…his coat is very brown isn’t it…can you feel his fluffy nose, look his ears…shall we count his paws…look white mouse…oh you’re bored, shall we sing a song now”…Face it, it’s not the epitome of glamour, not what we spent years studying for, but the rewards for our selflessness when they come, are immeasurable and more than worth the sacrifice. For me, it’s when my child opens her eyes, spies her mother and instantaneously beams the most beatific smile ever know. Or when she tries to copy  and join in the actions of Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes or when she points at the dog and says his name.

This is a reflection of the way we must love God and our love for our children indicative of how he loves us, unconditionally,  no matter what we do. All of us are searching for meaning and purpose in our lives. It was said of me “she uses religion as her crutch, she cannot exist without it, it’s so terribly sad, she really needs help”. I suspect that is why I am accused of lacking purpose, in that my life, my purpose, is orientated towards the love and service of God, in order that unlike the transitory things in life, he might bring me a deep and lasting happiness.

It amuses me to have my life described as “desperate”, to be implored to “seek some help” and told that my life is lacking purpose, because it doesn’t conform to others’ ideas and expectations.

I have my Lord and stemming from that has come my husband, my children, an interesting job which enables me to work from home, the opportunity to do some formal study and not least my writing, which  is beginning to bear fruit. Only today an unexpected opportunity came my way and I am absorbed in some fascinating reading and research.

Taking the train to London with my young family is undoubtedly a bit of a faff, given that I will need to lug buggy, bag of supplies and folding chair. I don’t need to do it to make myself feel any better, I’m sure everyone would understand if I decided to stay home and pray instead. But the thing is I feel so passionate about this and so sad, both for the women who are killing their babies and for the babies themselves I cannot simply stand back and do nothing. There is an opportunity to bear witness and to pray, which I cannot pass by. It doesn’t give me any purpose, I am sad that this situation is indeed necessary, but I need to do something and to support those who have gone to so much time and effort to co-ordinate and organise this vigil. If it changes the mind of just one woman then it’s a job well done.

Thank you to Clare for your inspiring example of witness.

One thought on “Life’s purpose

  1. I have always found that gratuitous unpleasantness is founded in jealousy of some sort or another, whether it’s of my faith, my husband, our ability to cope with difficulties which some think they would find unbearable and so on. Some of this has persisted for (literally) decades and I find the only way to cope is to say this prayer every morning:

    A PRAYER FOR OUR OPPRESSORS

    Father,
    according to your law of love
    we wish to love sincerely all who oppress us.
    Help us to follow the commandments
    of your new covenant,
    that by returning good for the evil done to us
    we may learn to bear the ill-will of others
    out of love for you.
    We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    AMEN

    Easier said than done, of course, but I have found it very helpful over the years.

    I will be also saying my favourite prayer to St Gerard for you and your baby each morning.

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