Do you ever wonder if you are doing enough to serve God? Do we really go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature? How can we do more to be “family missionaries” in our own homes and everyday lives?
As a mother of four young children I know I already do a lot. I dedicate the majority of my time to loving my husband and raising our children and weaving a home together. I enjoy spending time with our families and live for the next social gathering with good friends. I’m friendly and smile with people in my neighborhood, at the playground and in the local stores, and help out as I can in my parish. We send our automatic check to the parish every month, have the kids drop a few coins in the collection basket every Sunday, and send money here and there for local and non-local charities.
But is that all I can do? Is that all I should do? I know I do a lot already, but is it enough?
Giving money to organizations working directly with those who need it is great, but it’s not the same as looking into the eyes of those in need and offering what I can. Sending a check for a new water well or school building just isn’t the same as sliding my work gloves on and laying those bricks. I can send a donation for disaster relief for families who’ve lost everything, but without being there in person, I really can’t grasp the gravity of the devastation they face. I can fast and pray for the starving kids in Africa but something tells me cutting out one of our six meals of the day wouldn’t even touch the tip of their hunger pain.
I’d like to do more to serve Christ and spread the Gospel, using words if necessary, on my own and with my family but I’m still trying to figure out how. Below is a graph I made to help me visually order and prioritize the various “layers” of giving and serving God in my life. The first layer, of course, belongs to God and our relationship. By loving God and serving Him as my first and most important priority, all other service to Him ripples out to the other relationships and areas of my life where I can I serve Him.
Serving God in our lives as mothers and families starts within our own families. A family offers the best place to learn and practice patience, empathy and compassion. If we can’t serve those nearest us, we’ll never truly give beyond ourselves. All that said, some days I can’t help but wonder if I use my family as an excuse for not doing more to bring Christ’s love to others in the world. But then, how could I possibly give of myself to anyone else when I’m lucky to shower on a daily basis let alone use the bathroom by myself? And while it’s really cool that the parish is organizing a mission trip to build houses for the poor, I can’t abandon my family and say “Adios! I’ll see you in a week!” I admire and pray earnestly for those families who give up their comfortable lifestyle and secure jobs in exchange for a missionary life in foreign lands and domestically. Yet, that’s not something I (or my husband) think God’s calling our family to for now.
However, I’d like to find a way to apply the missionary life within our own little family and community somehow. Sure, there are various volunteer opportunities for older youth, young adults and adults in the community – but not for families with little children. Although, I can’t blame them too much, who would want a bunch of hoodlums romping around an elderly home? The idea sounds lovely up until the point when my boys’ 5-minute attention span runs out and they decide to find out what all the various plugs and buttons attached to the patients’ beds do. I’d love to take everyone with me to give the gift of company to the kids stuck in the pediatric wards but my children would probably sneeze and pick their noses and wipe their snot all over them, or come home with nasty hospital-bred bugs of their own. Of course, there’s always the prison ministry – now this one could be a good way to exemplify that our choices have consequences, but I’d rather not destroy my children’s innocence at such an early age if I can help it. If it weren’t for the crude language, graphic pictures, and dangerous hostility I’d consider praying peacefully as a family at the abortion clinic, but they wouldn’t understand – nor do I want them to yet!
How do you and your families serve God in this world as a family?
Copyright 2013 Erika Marie