Thursday, May 6, 2010

The allure of comfort food, the joy of being a mother, and the dignity of human work...

As I left work yesterday, this furlough threat weighed heavily on my mind. One unpaid day per week is 20% of my salary. That's a crushing blow to our livelihood. We live well within our means, and have been able to manage Mike moving from full-time employment to full-time student quite well, even with a child and a mortgage to pay. But then to dismantle the other full-time salary? That's tough stuff.

Like I said yesterday, I went into crisis mode, which actually isn't a bad thing. I simply become more focused and appreciative of small things. I wasn't panicking, and still aren't, but my heart felt heavy with concern.

Lifting my spirits, though, was my son. I left work early yesterday to attend the Mother's Day Tea at his school, and as expected, it was all too adorable for words. And I also enjoyed socializing with a few of the other mothers. Being an introvert, and this just my first child, parental socializing is new territory for me. The kids are all dropped off and picked up at different times, so you rarely run into another parent. This was a nice opportunity to chat with them, plus the kids sang and we received our crafted Mother's Day gifts. It was one of those moments where you wished you had a dozen children :)

After that, Hank and I stopped off at the store to pick up some milk, and went home to make dinner. Mike was still taking his exam, so Hank and I were on our own for dinner. I was still feeling a bit emotionally burdened, and so I seized the opportunity to have one of those "I just don't care, I'm making whatever the heck I want" kind of dinners, and prepared Spider Man macaroni and cheese for both of us. I did add a side of fresh strawberries to balance things out a bit. With whipped cream :)

Later, when Mike came home (glowing from a successful exam, thank you for your prayers!) and was putting Hank to bed, before I dragged out my craft bag and started obsessively knitting, I pulled out my Bible and catechism. Since my post on this issue last week, I've been doing better with evening devotions, so thanks to my commenters for their great ideas! Per Deltaflute's suggestion, I took the catechism, and browsed the index to see if I could find a section on financial worries. I didn't find that exactly, but I did find a section on work that I thought pertained.

Pope John Paul II actually wrote an encyclical on the dignity of human work, and I wrote an article about it early in my library career. It's quoted at length in this section of the catechism.

P. 2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation...Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating early realities with the Spirit of Christ.

P. 2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature...Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

I took great comfort in these passages. And of course, they apply to all of us; to those that work outside the home and to those that work inside the home. Whether you're slogging away over a spreadsheet in your office or changing diapers, you're working. And I love how the Church addresses the fact that all of our work is good for our souls.

I was also thinking about the second passage. Even if this furlough comes to pass, we'll find a way to make ends meet and provide for our family. In the end, that's all that matters.

For Bible reading, I figured, as long as I'm doing something, that's a good thing. I don't need to be so Type A about working my way systematically through the entire thing. As long as I stick with it, I can get a really interesting Bible study or something so that I can manage to get through 1 Chronicles at some future point. For the time being, I've started with the first letter to the Corinthians, and I'm loving it. The chapter I read last night discussed Christians being 'fools for Christ' and being perceived as weak and different for their faith. This made me think about what the Church is going through right now. It all tied together for me well last night.

When I arrived at work this morning, I realized that I hadn't pulled out my Living Faith in a few days, so I did so. Yesterday's entry hit the nail right on the head.

"Trouble and Fear

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Do we actually let our hearts be troubled or afraid? Worry and fear, it seems to me, are a natural consequence of daily life. When my child drove our car out of that driveway alone for the first time, I worried - a lot.

Jesus, I'm sure, knows we have legitimate concerns about our families, our relationships, our jobs. We can call on him during those times of stress and doubt. But I think what he is saying here goes deeper than everyday cares and woes. This is about or salvation. He tells us: Trust in me, believe in me. And if you do, you will not have a troubled heart; you will not be afraid. He will be there for us. He will comfort and protect us. He will give us eternal life.

Dear Jesus, heal my troubled heart and banish my fear."

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