I don't know about you, but the last thing I want for my life is for that song lyric to describe me.
I have been in a place of struggle lately, and it took me some time to get over the barrier of comparing it to others and their struggles. God has felt a bit elusive for me, even though life is mostly good. Losing spiritual footing impacted my parenting, and me as a spouse. Enter Edel.
|I would have packed my bags that very moment.|
Let me begin by saying that I am a pretty terrible blog follower since Google Reader broke up with me. I tried Blog Lovin' and it just isn't the same. I end up deleting the direct email notifications from blogs I try to follow before I read them. Terrible reader. So, it is actually amazing that I managed to find out Edel was happening.
I am not big on retreats or conferences usually. At retreats, I feel spiritually inadequate, and have to fight through the cheesy hugging ceremonies. Some retreats I have been a part of end up with a creepy stalker element to them, and I leave feel more drained than connected. Conferences can have a similar effect, especially if I am pregnant. Conferences don't typically put nap time on the schedule, so I miss something when I get tired of waddling around. Fortunately, Edel felt like neither of these things. I've never attended an event that was set up with mothers in mind. The baby inclusive cocktail party was easily the greatest party I have ever been to, until the baby-wearing inclusive karaoke dance party the next night. The talks were spread out and spoke directly to the part of me that felt like motherhood was broken in my life. (Well, the parts I heard did this, anyway. The giant live Tweet screen was distracting in the best kind of way.) For the first time, I was in a room with 150+ women that felt EXACTLY the same way I was feeling.
|My son, the morning I left for Edel: Mom, it is Friday. You are leaving. Get out.|
He followed by repeatedly telling me he was drawing me buried in sand. Motherhood.
If you are a better blog reader than I am, you will read this line repeatedly, but I can't get over it: "It is good that you are here." Hallie Lord managed to provide the inspired seven words that all of us desperately needed to hear.
Jen Fulwiler and Hallie Lord (and support staff) saw a hole in ministry, and they worked hard to fill it. I'm sure they would tell you that the only regret is that more were unable to attend. Mothers need to hear that the job is hard, but that there are many more women participating in the struggle right beside us.
Marion Fernandez-Cueto mentioned the analogy of taking a chem class and then realizing that you would be judged by how you "chemistry" the rest of your life, sometimes by people that know nothing about chemistry. This leaves such a hole for self-doubt and isolation to take over!
Haley Stewart talked about our tendency to let our sin define us. This is especially true of motherhood in my life. I think about the times I have failed to respond to my children in the way that I should (and that I want to), and in dark times those are the only moments I can see.
Jen Fulwiler described laying in bed and listening to the sounds of her family in the morning and really not wanting to get out of bed. I thought I was the only one that did that!
To hear four different women with four incredibly different perspectives on family life prepare talks that were all equally relatable and brilliantly designed to tear apart the isolation of all that were listening was a pretty powerful experience. To be surrounded by Catholic women that knew the exhaustion and brokenness I was feeling but sought to get to know me not as a mother or a wife but as a woman was the source of comfort and regeneration that somehow managed to help me sleep less over the weekend, but return home to my family with what I so desperately needed: a chance to miss my life.
The struggle is worth it.
Whether you are a parent or not, a spouse or not, Catholic or not: you were put here for a reason. While Edel certainly delivered, there were other things about this weekend (events on social media and the homily on Sunday) that drove home a message for me that we all need to hear: you are here for a reason. Intelligent design is not just the physical, but our own talents and strengths as well. If you see a hole or a gap to bridge, perhaps that is the first indication that you are called to fill it or build that bridge.
|St. Mary Cathedral in downtown Austin.|
This weekend helped me to rediscover what I am being called to do, and that is an incredibly empowering feeling, even if I am typing this between breakfast cleaning and diaper changing. And you know what? It is good that I am here also.
|Communion Hymn this weekend at the Cathedral|