When all else fails, when the demands of everyday life become just too overwhelming to handle – the best advice I’ve ever received is to “just show up.” Showing up is not an act of failure, nor is it an admission of giving up. Rather it is an opportunity to press pause and wait until the darkness passes before fully engaging in life’s duties once again. Every now and then I think we all need to just show up until the gloom passes and the light shines forth again.
With the many demands on family life, it is easy to get caught up in the belief that others may be coping much better than we might be. I used to fall into this trap as a young mom and then a wise and very experienced person advised me against this sort of thinking. Of course I am speaking about my beautiful mom Joan. She was wonderful about giving me just the right amount of advice at just the right time. She taught me to be at peace with MY life – right where I am today, struggles and all – young mom, working mom, post surgery mom – whatever the case might be. She taught me to embrace my life and own it, trusting that God was with me in the unknown. It was a freeing feeling to hear that you don’t have to have it all together, all of the time – sometimes it’s okay just to show up. I find myself wishing she were here today, so I could ask her how to deal with grieving mom.
The lure of social media entices people to post only happy/successful photos, showing others that their life is simply perfect. But we all know this is fake! There are so many reasons which cause regular folks to become overwhelmed and fall into a place of darkness. It could be challenges with health, job, family, children or loss of a loved one. Any one of these on their own is enough to cause a strain but many folks face a combination of them on most days. So how do we handle these challenges and still persevere in life? Mom had the answer…
For her, it was faith in a God who loves us unconditionally and wants only our happiness and eternal salvation. Mom’s whole life was centered around this belief. When things got hardest as they did with her cancer diagnosis, it was her deep faith which sustained her and kept her going. Some days, she just showed up – others, she felt genuine joy. She taught us not to shun the challenges in our life. It is through these challenges that we come to know the cross of Jesus, which is the key to knowing and loving God. She showed us that the deepest experience of God comes from suffering, failure and loss. While her loss from this life is devastating for all of us, good has come from her hideous disease. Her heroic virtues of faith, hope and love shone forth from the darkness of cancer for all to see. She converted many souls to the love of God – souls who had not known what the authentic unconditional love of Jesus looked like, and they found it in her. She continues to spread His love through her beautiful husband, children and grandchildren and also through stories shared about her tender,humble and loving heart.
Bishop Robert Barron asked in a recent homily “What is the place of darkness or gloom in your life? Could this be the place where the light will come?” I know from experience that when times are tough, God is working in the most vulnerable place in your life, even if you know anything about it. His grace is enough for you – don’t give up…show up – the light will come.