Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Longing to Belong

Longing to Belong
A little shout out to all about the standards that really matter

This post is from a new contributing guest blogger. It's a quick blast of fresh encouragement for all of us who struggle against the temptation to try to meet the world's standards, but especially for mothers. What standard do you hold yourself up to? Where do you really belong? All the way from Switzerland, a friend...

"I am a more than little nervous about writing this. I am not a natural writer, talker yes, I can go on for hours, but getting it all to make sense on paper is a whole different ball game. I beg patience, dear reader.

One of the biggest challenges I face as an Expat (I am British, living in Switzerland and have previously lived in Italy) is that of “belonging.” The 5 years in Italy were amazing and in every way life changing (another conversation for another day), but Italy was not “home.” Moving back to the UK after 5 years away was absolutely necessary and a wonderful and settling experience, but England no longer felt like home. We have now been in Switzerland for 7 years, our children were born here and the eldest now attends school here. We are regular attendees of the English speaking Catholic Church in Zürich (why we don’t go to the local Mass is also another conversation for another day), know the ladies at the supermarket and the bus drivers. Yet still, this does not feel like home.

What I realized, though, is that once we accept that we are made in the Image and Likeness of God, we understand then that we are made for Heaven. And yet instead of heaven we find ourselves pootling about on Earth, thinking “nope, this still just doesn't feel like home.”

So I am now going to tell you a story about my eldest son, James, who is 5.

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with New Baby, I went to the doctor for an ultrasound (a discussion of the benefits of the excellent health-care system here in Switzerland is also another conversation for another day), the doctor (who is in every way wonderful) could not find the baby. Blood tests to establish HcG levels were inconclusive and so, rather than coming home with a picture of the new baby, I came home with the news that God may already have called the baby home. James was furious. He told God that “this is my baby, not yours” (he had prayed very hard for another sibling) and he prayed every day that the baby should not go to heaven yet, but come and spend some time with him first. I returned to the doctor for another ultrasound a week later and there was a happy, healthy, perfectly formed baby, who was born some 7 months later. Regardless of how the ultrasound turned out, I know that I have a child who loves, trusts and talks to God. Because of how the ultrasound turned out, I know God listens to him.

A month later it was James’ birthday. They have a little party at kindergarten and one of the activities is that each child in the class gets to “wish” him something for his birthday. It was very sweet to watch each child wishing him lots of friends, lots of presents, good health. My wish for him is heaven. My heart nearly burst as I watch him sat at the front of his class with his teacher! O Lord, that you would entrust such a beautiful soul to our care! I pray for the humility to raise all of our children according to His will. Maybe this is why our first two babies (and one subsequent one) did go straight to heaven: God was not saying “No!” or “not right now!”, but “I have someone even better for you.”

our friend from Switzerland
So in the end, dear reader, I leave you with this: the house is not always spotlessly clean, we do grab the very occasional McDonalds, the kids do have screaming fits, the clothes are not always ironed and I rarely manage to blow-dry my hair. If this is the standard by which we must be judged as successful or have-too.many-kids-and-failing-to-cope parents then so be it. But I am certain that is not going to be the standard by which Christ judges us on the Last Day. Have courage, keep praying and above all, live for the Kingdom of Heaven - it is where we belong."

Take a breath! Know that it is going to be okay. You do not have to be perfect; you do not have to fit their standards - Someone greater has already defined you!  Take advice from our friend, don't seek to belong to a group on earth so badly that you force yourself into their idea of you. Instead, be reminded of our heavenly home and know that God loves you very much!

your friendly new feminist,

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Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!  And please use initials or first name or even pseudonym instead of simply “anonymous” so we can have some way to distinguish each person in the discussion.  Thank You!)

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