“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. […] In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 14:27, 16:33)
Lent is an ideal time to reflect on where we are along our journey of stripping away our own will in order to conform to the Father’s in all circumstances. Two challenges of this are moving from fear to deep trust and from the desire for control to surrendering. Sometimes we think that we have made so much growth in a specific area that it is essentially no longer an issue, but then God provides us with opportunities that shine a light on layers in which we still clutch onto control or circumstances that provoke anxiety.
For me, though adolescence was my comfort zone as a teacher, I am realizing that navigating it for the first time as a mom is an experience with ample opportunity to recognize how much I have to grow. The movie Breakthrough provides a context and circumstances that prompt rich reflection and discussion of this theme of growing in trust as parents.
The depiction of Joyce Smith was one of my favorite aspects of the movie. She prayed boldly and demonstrated deep faith. She persevered in hope in times of discouragement. Yet, at one point in the movie, her husband was begging her to remember who she was in the midst of such a great trial, prompting her to look inward and consider where she was called to grow through the experience. She considered how past experiences were influencing her present, leading to a breakthrough, a pivotal point towards releasing control and surrendering with an authentic “Thy will be done” on her heart. The movie beautifully wove together threads of identity of different people and how experiences, especially revelations of love, can shape us.
Breakthrough made me think of a concept that has come up often in my mind lately: The tensions of my own journey as a Catholic mom are overlaid with journeying with my daughters. This reality prompts me to reflect on how the Passion provides implications for personal growth through the example of Jesus, while simultaneously learning how to journey well with my girls through the example of Mary standing at the foot of the Cross. Both Jesus and Mary leave me in awe with how they were able to peacefully and patiently allow God’s will for their lives to unfold.
At one point in Breakthrough, the doctor says a phrase that aligns with something I try to embrace, “This is a process.” For example, when writing my dissertation, I tried to remember to savor the experience along the way, rather than just wanting the conclusion. Even harder, when in labor with my fifth daughter, I tried to shift my perspective to see the beauty in the process and all the ways that God had used the experience to teach me previously and to be receptive to what he might want to teach me with the current labor, rather than just trying to block out the pain.
Ultimately, by focusing on the beauty of the process in different aspects of life, I am learning to love the narrative that God is writing with my life. I try to view it as an opportunity to be in awe with his designs, rather than being too stuck in my own plans and perceptions of how I think my life is unfolding (or how I think my daughters’ lives should be unfolding). Yet the doctor follows up the comment with, “Now we wait,” which can be so hard. It is much easier for me to embrace the process when I am actively doing something, while it is a great challenge to wait and see. However, it is in those moments of waiting that I learn to surrender control.
God provides humbling opportunities to remind us that we need Jesus: the Father’s plan for our salvation. This Lent, as you reflect on your own journey and how God is calling you to grow, entering into the stories of others by reading books or watching movies like Breakthrough can help you to identify layers that speak to you, resonating with your own journey and how God is also calling you to grow in this moment.
Loving Lord, As we progress through the rhythms of Lent, help us to lean into your love with great hope. Thank you for the power of story, moving our hearts in order to teach us and help us to grow. Amen.
Copyright 2019 Amanda Villagómez