We all wonder sometimes what our mark will be on the world, what we will leave behind when we are gone.
As we’ve spent this year trudging through grief and emptying my father-in-law’s house, it’s been on my mind rather a lot.
For a few years now, I have longed to be a stay-at-home-mother. Now that I am able to live that out and appreciate the often monotonous and incredibly difficult role that that is, I am inclined to ask myself if it is enough?
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t switch this role for the world, and I fully intend to keep going with it as long as is physically, emotionally and financially possible for us. But sometimes I catch myself thinking: is family life as a ministry enough?
What if I were only ever remembered as a wife and mother? What if all of my energy, time, money, love, life, was poured into my ministry as a spouse and parent, and I had nothing left to give to the poor, the hungry, the needy?
Does that make me a bad Christian?
If every married person in the world only ever did one thing – love their spouse and children perfectly – then we would have few problems in the world. That is the immense impact of family.
But the sad truth is, we are not perfect. We do not love perfectly, and often those who suffer the most are those closest to us. But this simply shows us something we struggle to realize: our families are often the poor, the hungry, the needy, in our lives. The ones who desperately seek God, and urgently need us.
Chances are I will be called to many things in my life. This blog, for instance. Perhaps to serve others in many different ways and many different ‘ministries’. I may be called, as I hope I am, to part-time counselling, working for pro-life charities, writing.
And when I am called home, as one day we all are, I might be remembered by many in the world.
Then again, I may only ever be remembered by my husband, children, grandchildren.
And you know what? I am ok with that.
Because I cannot possibly preach love if I go out and meet everybody else’s needs at the neglect of my family’s.
And if all I am ever remembered as is a woman who strove to love God, her husband and her family; a woman who leaves behind a family who know they are loved, who are compassionate, prayerful, and who love God and others, then I would know that I have done something great with my life.
So I repeat to myself, as a mantra for my life, the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta – a woman who was a saint precisely because she ‘mothered’:
May you never be made to feel that marriage and parenthood is not enough. It is without doubt the greatest ministry you will ever do, the greatest legacy you will leave to the world. We may be called to do many great things, and I cannot wait to see them, but may it never ever be at the expense of our families and their needs.
Because what is the good of helping hundreds, if the few that God called you to care for first are forgotten?