Shattered and Reborn


St._Padre_Pio Stigmata[1]I once asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not experienced suffering, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house. He put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice “Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.”  What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was that I would be shallow, without depth and strength.

If this is the situation, I say bring on suffering because I want—no I need—to live in reality. I can think of no greater tragedy than to die and discover that I had deluded myself, simply living happily on the surface, eating, drinking, doing chores, sleeping…and yet missing out on the core reality of what it means to be fully alive, fully human, in relationship to other people and to God.

I was just thinking that I have not really written about my pain, the suffering I went through to raise nine kids with little money on a hobby farm. I only really write about the joy of mothering. I guess it is because joy always triumphs in the end in my life; I tend to forget about the painful years. The love of little people, strong tea, laughter, and the Presence of God in the midst of chaos seems to crack anxiety and stress but yes, I have been shattered by the demands of mothering.

Yet God always manages to use those moments when I am shattered by suffering to crack my heart and soul open to more of His presence and healing. It is like childbirth: the pain is forgotten when I hold my newborn. If there is no pain, there is no baby or new growth in the Spirit.

For me God speaks through books as well as my spiritual director and the written word. He has often changed my life through these “tools”, flipped an inner switched by bringing insight and clarity. I then realize that each difficult stage, every suffering in mothering is normal, not a big deal, because all mothers go through similar experiences. So I am not going through a dramatic or unusual crisis. I can see each difficult stage as a call from God to change and grow by going deeper, accessing the strength of the Holy Spirit within my own heart.


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  • melanie jean juneau

    In response to a comment on facebook: The dark years refers to my inner life- panic attacks, crippling fear, agrophobia, post traumatic stress syndrome, restleg, depression, sleep apenia- I did not sleep well for over twenty years. My husband has chronic depression and we have lived below the poverty line, isolated and marginalized on a small hobby farm. I am NOT complaining because this pressure cooker brought out my weaknesses and forced me to take myself on.

  • Tomacz Tesla

    Dear Sister Melanie: I share a similar path with you and your husband. I am practically a prisoner of a schizophrenic brother who lured me into a trap 18 months ago. I have been unemployed since 2008 and I took his offer to return and take care of the old family home. I left the US and came here only to find out that he has been crazy for a while. He has access to money and with that lawyers, thugs, etc. I have been living in constant fear of being killed, there have been attempts on my life. I am seeking help to return to the US (from where I should have never left) and people even make light of the situation. Since my brother is an skilful sociopath some do not realize how crazy he is until they spent some time in his company. I offer this sufferings for you and your husband and children. Please pray that one day I will be able to raise a few bucks and get out of this hell. God bless.

    • melanie

      I am praying for you.

      • Tomacz Tesla

        I thank you for your prayers. I am praying Psalms 33 & 34 these days. Very powerful and encouraging. Thanks again. God bless.

  • Cheryl Dickow

    I honestly take issue with the constant reference to us Catholic moms who don’t have a lot of children (1.25 in this instance) since it always seems we are being grouped in with the “well-off.”
    You never know a person’s circumstance and it is rather tiring to read these posts where mothers with “many” children are looking down at us who have less children and making judgments about us.

    • melanie

      Oh Cheryl, that was not my point at all. Of course other people are purified through their own circumstances but I have not lived your life. God chose to purify me through the combination of a lot of kids, poverty and the work load of a small farm to be my threshing floor, winepress, meatgrinder. II find it odd that people think I am complaining because I thought this was an article that talked about embracing difficulty because God uses it to bring us closer to Him

    • Can I make a humble suggestion?

      When we read something where someone shares their life experiences, think not “how is this person looking to insult me and look down on me because they have lived a different life”, but rather “how can I use thos experiences outlined here for my own benefit?”

      • melanie

        well said; you understand that my main premise is I can choose to view suffering positively and embrace it because ‘All things work for the good for those who trust in God’.