*This post was originally published in March 2008.
How did you do it? How did you stand at the foot of the cross and watch your son suffer? I wince when my children receive shots at the doctor’s office. I remember watching Madeline stand outside a circle of children playing and look at her peers longingly. I ached for her to be included. Once, recently, I thought I’d lost her. She was hiding behind a clothing rack in a store and my mom and I were calling for her over and over. “Madeline! Madeline!” I was on the verge of becoming hysterical when I saw a pair of pants shift. There she was playing an innocent game of Hide-and-Seek. Even after she was in my arms, I couldn’t stop shaking. What would I do if I lost one of my children? How would I bear it? How did you bear it?
Like most parents, I hate to see my kids suffer physically or emotionally. I’m their Mama Bear and I want to protect them with a fierceness only other moms can understand. Yet, there’s only so much I can do. They’re going to have to endure insults, scourges, and humiliation. They’ll have crosses to carry. Sometimes I might be able to lighten their load, to kiss their tears away, to ease their suffering, to share the pains of their thorns, to put bandaids on their hurts. Other times all I’ll be able to do is to take a step back, to helplessly watch, and to pray that through their suffering they will come to know your son with a deeper and more intimate love.
Mary, help me to be there for my children. Help me to defend them, to unconditionally love them, to pray for them, and to accept their suffering as a part of God’s plan. But also help me to love those who hurt them, to forgive those who cause them pain. Dying on the cross, your son thirsted for souls. He went to all this trouble and endured great suffering. Yet, there are so many, myself included at times, who don’t appreciate his sacrifice. We continue to crucify him with our own sins – no matter how small. It would be a lot easier to hate those who hurt him, to hate all of us who betray Christ with our actions (or our lack of action – say, being too tired to pray to him). Instead, you and your son choose to forgive and forgive and forgive and to love us all despite our weaknesses. Allow me to do the same.
Mary, thank you for being a model of motherhood and of faith. Thank you for drawing me closer to Christ’s side as I pray, serve my family and others, and try to lead a Christian life. Help me to remember the redemptive value of sacrifice and that it is through my own and my children’s suffering that we come to know your son.
I love you and long to be more like you.