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Question: Dear Rita, I am 45 and feeling stretched so thin. I get discouraged so easily and I really feel as though the joy has left my life. I KNOW how blessed I am with ten beautiful children, a loving and supportive husband, good health etc.. I've tried to be patient with myself, but I can't help but feel that I have entered a different phase in my life and that the youthful hope that I always had will not return. I feel almost as if I have left Nazareth with Christ and have gone into the desert. Do you have any insights for me? I am so weary and have so little time. I wish I had a friend to mentor me, but I think I must turn to Mary and to prayer. Do you have a suggestion? Please pray for me. Thank you.
Answer:

Dear Mom,

I want you to know that though I can not possibly know intimately the struggles that you are facing, I have walked the journey you are currently walking. In fact as time goes by I look back and realize that were it not for the prayers and intercessions of the Saints before the sweet Jesus I do not know where I would be now. I want to address your letter as a friend who has traveled just a little farther on the path and desires to tell you what I have seen up ahead. Rest assured, dear mom, that though the path is long the part that I am traveling at this moment is peaceful. This does not mean that there are not brambles and rough spots, yet there is a view through the dense trees of doubt that are encouraging and uplifting.

Before I sat down to write I fixed myself a cup of tea. The girls are at the rec center swimming and I have a quiet moment. I am eager to share this time with you and only regret that you are not here to share a cup of tea with me.

When a woman mothers and works tirelessly within her family she gives from a source that is beyond human comprehension. The emotional involvement in nurturing children is beyond the beyond at times. We can not fully comprehend the toll this involvement takes from us until we have the perspective of looking back at what has been accomplished.

Many times  women feel that if something is going wrong in the family (normal challenges within her children or within her marriage or her feelings) they in some way failed to meet the standard of perfection that has been set before them by an unyielding society. This unyielding sense of what a person must be in order to be worthy is not only unrealistic but I believe with all my heart it is of the Tempter. The Tempter delights in tearing down people who are striving to do what is within the Lord's will. First and foremost it is vital that the feelings of unworthiness be banished from your thoughts. Jesus has chosen you for the work you are doing. Jesus could choose anyone He pleases but instead of all the others, He has chosen you. The challenges you are facing are not a result of your unworthiness but instead the result of the Lord's desire to put the very best person on the case.

It is only natural that as we age we begin to ask ourselves many questions. Sometimes the cruelty of the Tempter is evident as he niggles us into looking too far ahead. Instead of hope we see struggles. Sometimes we are dismayed because we can not imagine the end of the struggles that are in our lives at the moment. Sometimes as we watch our young adult children take off for their own journey it brings into sharp relief our own beginning so many years ago. It is not unusual for a person to begin to add up the successes and failures. This is a dangerous discipline as it only overshadows the 'now' we are asked to live at the moment.

When I read the diaries of pioneer women I am humbled by their struggles. It appears that their whole life was centered upon survival. I imagine how I would feel if all I had to look forward to was making it through one day and then the next. Though we are generations from these women of faith we can however share with them the triumph of peacefully doing the will of the Lord. Their struggle is our own and echoes to the women who will similarly struggle in the future. I do not like the term Mid Life Crisis. In my mind all life is a beginning. Each day is a beginning and to attach terms that imply that there is an ending is to somehow diminish the worth of a time in our life.

However there are certain seasons in one's life that come and go and then come and go again. For example, you have a very young baby, who no doubt is nursing. I would venture a guess, that you have traveled this path before. Yet you are in an unfamiliar season in your life. This season overshadows your thoughts as you work through the tasks at hand. You are experiencing emotions that are troubling. It is vital that you care for yourself carefully and intimately. Speak with persons who are in a position to help you. Your health care provider needs to know how you are feeling. It could be that you are experiencing a hormone imbalance or vitamin imbalance that when corrected will change the way you see your present situation. Sometimes hypothyroid issues bring to light feelings like you are experiencing. Only a trained person can ask you the right questions and take the right tests from you to ensure that you are healthy and that there are no issues that need addressing.

Allow time in your life for personal time. This is always important no matter our age. Time to think and to rest is essential. Make a point to set aside time to sit quietly before the Tabernacle. Try to go when the church is quiet and you know that you will have the opportunity to contemplate and speak with the Lord. I tell moms to pour their heart to Jesus for 10 minutes and then listen for 10 minutes. Be prepared to hear the Lord speak to you. Jesus loves you very much and longs to sit quietly with you in the embrace of His love. Jesus does not want to see His precious little ones upset or sad.

The desert of our life is not a dreadful place because Jesus is with us there. In the desert we are forced to give the Lord 100% of our attention. He has the water that will refresh and renew our dryness. Staying close to Him while in the desert brings a fruitfulness that is beyond imagining. I find comfort in ritual prayer such as the rosary. Reading the scriptures and asking the Lord to teach through their word is also important. Journalling through the desert gives us a perspective that calls to mind the progress we are making as we journey.

You are a wonderful woman of faith. Your docility and trust is of the Lord. You are a holy witness of the purity found in surrender to the Lord's will. It is clear that you are carrying burdens now yet the Lord has a plan for refreshment and renewal. Stay close to the Lord as you travel the present path. The season for travel is grey and cloudy right now, but I know that soon the clouds will part and the view from the path will be breathtaking. You will look upon the dark valley  that you have risen above and you will be amazed at the progress. Wait on the Lord. Wait on the Lord.

I will be praying for you everyday during my morning rosary. I pray for the intentions of all moms on the 4th Glorious Mystery.

Jesus, we ask that you surround our dear sister in Christ with angels that will hold her close and protect her as she journeys through this valley of doubt.
Give her persons in her life that will provide tangible help and assistance. Allow that she has enough to eat, and opportunities to rest. Lord, I ask that You in Your infinite mercy send her a sign of hope as she works through the struggles she now faces. Let the sun shine and the cool breezes of spring uplift her tired spirit. All this we entrust to Your loving care. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

   
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