We all have those moments. God knows we do. We burn dinner, forget birthdays, lose our tempers, wait until too late to call mother back. We say things we don’t mean, eat the wrong foods, lose our tempers, and nurse grudges. We lose our tempers.
All manner of thing can go wrong in the life of an ordinary person. Spouses lose jobs, family members get sick, pets die, and we are sometimes disappointed when a long-cherished hope is dashed. And we can be left feeling anxious and worried.
When life gets me down, I look for a little pick-me-up from a medieval hermitess.
Julian of Norwich is one of the most well-known English mystics of the fourteenth century. She is held in high esteem by Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans alike for her glorious description of 16 mystical visions of God, which were given her during a grave illness at the age of 30. Her Revelations of Divine Love permeate a tenderness for Christ that is both immense and exquisite . This love motivated her to dedicate her life to the service of God in a most extraordinary way – as an anchoress – one who is holed up within the walls of a church or cathedral, with little contact with the outside world. Her cell had three windows: one to hear the Mass and receive communion, one to communicate with her servant by, and one to dispense spiritual guidance to any who sought her wisdom.
What has a 14th century mystic possibly teach a 21st century mom like me about life?
As it turns out, plenty.
Some time ago, during a particularly difficult time, I happened upon a quote that gave me great comfort, and introduced me to this most extraordinary woman. They are words, which bring into sharp focus a reminder to trust in God in every circumstance. It has become a prayer for me when a child is ill or struggling, or when my husband’s business goes through a rough spell, or when a bit of news is unsettling, or when I’ve lost my temper. This prayer imbues seemingly unimportant or thankless tasks with a hopeful, joyous aspect.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”
It means that no matter what little thing goes wrong, how badly I’ve messed up, or how hopeless a situation seems, God loves me. And because He loves us all, He has given us means of reconciling ourselves to Him, to growing stronger, and doing better. And it is that knowledge of His love that gives us secure hope that He cares about our every need. All that is required of us is that we seek Him first (Matt. 6:25-34). And all manner of thing shall be well.
I hope that God will use what I write to encourage spouses and parents to focus more on the many joys of family life, and worry less about the things that can make us feel defeated. Because when we find joy in ordinary life, we give thanks to Him who gave it. And when we are grateful, we can see, and respond to, grace in even the most difficult of circumstances. And in responding to grace, we grow in holiness.
Copyright 2012 Brian and Nissa Gadbois