Last Saturday morning, my family was caught in a most unwelcome whirlwind of activity. It was supposed to be our only morning to sleep in – yet it had become a day to squeeze in all of the necessary errands and responsibilities that had been virtually ignored in the past two weeks due to the school’s Christmas Program planning. We dashed from place to place in a car together. There was arguing in the backseat, disagreements as to which radio station to listen to, whining, grumbling at inconsiderate drivers, etc. Before it was all said and done, I had snapped at my kids – “Just shut up for goodness sake! I don’t want to hear another word. I don’t want to hear you and I don’t want to see you right now.” Instantly, I regretted my words, but anger prevented me from taking them back.
We arrived at church (not the one I wanted to go to). I sat near the back, so that people (hopefully) would not see my unpleasant scowl. I simply could not pray, so I took a walk to the bathroom and meandered around the foyer until it was time for mass to start. A statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary caught my eye – one that must have been on loan to the church, as I did not recognize it. Tears filled my eyes, as I talked to Mary and looked up at the beautiful statue depicting Mother Mary with such tenderness. I confessed that I had failed. I felt like garbage for talking to my kids that way. I knew that she had never done so with Jesus. I begged her help in being a better mom.
On my way back to my pew, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the priest trying to comfort a young woman who was sobbing so hard that she was shaking. The opening song had begun, however, and the priest had to process up the center aisle. Being uncomfortable with not knowing this woman, I began to walk back to my seat, but I just couldn’t. Her pain had affected me. I had to chance the fact that she could reject my presence and concern.
I approached her cautiously, and asked what I could do to help. We wound up going in the back of church where the priest dresses for mass in order to talk privately. This beautiful young woman was simply feeling depleted, overwhelmed, used-up and all alone. I too was feeling depleted, and exhausted – only I was so blessed to be surrounded by love and support. This woman told me that her family lives states away, as she moved here to take a job in ministry. She said that she just wanted her mom. It broke my heart. I asked her if I could give her a hug, and she said, “Yes.” We cried together as I held her. Then, after a bit, we dried our eyes and went back to mass with a whole new attitude.
God had put this woman in my path to show me how blessed I am to have children and family here to share the joys and burdens of life. I suppose that I was put in her path to be a set of arms and a shoulder to cry on at a time when she felt that no one cared. The way that God orchestrates our lives is incredible. We realize this awesome fact if we only take the time to step back and try to see the big picture. I was aggravated that I had missed the earlier mass at my (preferred) church. How ridiculous of me to let something so petty ruffle my feathers. Clearly, I had missed the earlier mass so that I would be there for that woman – so that she would be there for me. I am so glad that God is truly in control, and can be trusted to attend to every little (and big) detail of our lives.