“Writing My Own Story”

The lesson of vocation

Posted by Arwen Mosher in Faith on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 5:57 PM

I have several friends who like blogs, but don’t read ones written by other Catholic mothers.

“I can’t take the pressure,” they say. “Their lives look so perfect, and it makes me feel badly that mine’s not like that.”

Personally, I do read – and am inspired by – blogs by other Catholic moms. But I understand my friends’ point of view. It can be intimidating.

I’ve been part of the Internet community for years and it’s been a positive force in my life. I’ve been inspired and uplifted by the writings of many online friends. In order to keep it that way, I try to remember two things when I’m reading.

1) Perfection is an illusion.

Generally, other people are presenting the most competent and interesting versions of themselves. I know this is true because I often give in to the temptation to do it.

I do my best to keep it real but when I have a choice between writing about homemade pumpkin butter or the fact that we had nachos for dinner twice this week, I’m going to choose the pumpkin butter, because who wants to read about shredding cheese onto tortilla chips and putting it under the broiler? That’s a ten-word recipe. A blog has to be more interesting.

Also, many of a family’s most “real” moments are personal, too private to write about. There’s a reason the “marriage” category of this blog is so sparse – it’s uncomfortable (and, frankly, inappropriate) to write about the struggles of our marriages except in the most general way. It doesn’t mean we don’t have them. All marriages have struggles. It just means they’re not blog fodder.

2) Vocation, vocation, vocation.

Back when we were having fertility difficulties, it was painful for me because I’d planned to be a witness by having a bunch of kids, and God wasn’t giving me that chance. I prayed until my heart was quiet and journaled until my hand ached, and God taught me a lesson that he’s had to keep teaching me relentlessly since then: he wants me to keep my eyes on my own paper. Other people’s stories are lovely, but the one he intends me to write with my own life is uniquely suited to the talents he’s given me.

I’m constantly tempted to look at the other mothers around me – in real life and online – and think, “She’s so good at that. I need to do that.” And if “that” is something which doesn’t come easily to me, I get discouraged. How am I ever going to create beautiful nature crafts with my children, when I am neither creative nor a nature-lover? How am I going to learn to get up at 5:30am to start the day with an organized burst of energy, when I am such a night owl that the world looks blurry to me before 7:30?

But when I remember to quiet down and turn to God with these questions, he invariably gives me the same answer. You have your own vocation.

It’s a vocation that, for me, will likely never involve complicated nature crafts or crack-of-dawn rising. It will involve other things – including things that don’t come easily to me – but they will be things that God calls me to, not that I choose because they look good on other people.

Remembering vocation has given me immeasurable peace over the years. It’s God’s gift that enables me to find inspiration in the lives of other mothers, because I can recognize that we are different, and that’s a good thing. Varying vocations make the world go round.

It works both ways, too. When I’ve just been feeling discouraged and gotten the reassuring reminder to keep writing my story my own way, it helps keep me from thinking I have all the answers. For instance, I love to bake, so homemade birthday cakes are a given in my family. It doesn’t mean a less-oven-inclined mom’s grocery store cake is not as good. Her vocation just doesn’t involve serving her family that particular way.

It’s incredibly tempting to want to say to another mother, “You can do this, because I can.” But it truly does not work like that. So many of our gifts and limitations are hidden, in our hearts where only God can see them. We live better when we leave the calling to him.

In Real Life, Too

So when I read blogs, I try to keep in mind that everyone has hidden weaknesses, and that we each have a particular, private call from God to live our lives a certain way. It helps a lot.

And ultimately, I’ve found that these points are even more important when I’m interacting with other mothers in person. A blogger doesn’t know if I instinctively feel inferior or superior to her, but a face-to-face friend can catch the vibes even if I’m not explicit about my feelings. When I keep vocation in mind, it checks my pride and helps me to live the way I’m sure God wants me to – listening to him, and building up those around me. (This will be a life-long struggle, obviously.)

When I’m getting confused about vocation, it helps me to think about my love for my own children. I want them to be the best versions of themselves they can be, and that is unique for each individual child. God’s a much better, more loving parent than I am. Why would he want us all to be the same?

Other people can be examples, but listen for His call.

— Arwen Mosher


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