I stood at my kitchen sink, dousing dirty dishes from dinner. Steam rouse in bursts from the hot water as I recalled the ugly moments from my day. I had been harsh with my children, impatient and reactive.
Why was it so easy for me to snap at small people, to be so easily burdened by their many needs?
I gazed at my picture of Mother Mary, the one I keep at eye level at my sink, and I contemplated her peacefulness and generosity with others. I silently requested she form me into herself.
Then, something strange happened.
While I worked, my mind wandered from my prayer. Suddenly, I had this thought,
You are wasting your time. This work is pointless, abandon it now and do something important.
I shuddered and quickly recited the St. Michael prayer, begging him to dispel the darkness.
The sinister thought alarmed me because it echoed a sentiment with which I had been struggling—the search to find meaning in the monotony of motherhood. When I became a parent, I wasn't prepared for the tedious nature of the job—around the clock feedings, diaper changes, the insurmountable Vesuvius of laundry, and the cesspool of need from my precious, yet tiresome peanut gallery. The care and feeding of little people was important but I couldn't feel the gravity. The work felt redundant, time consuming and even boring.
Wasn’t there something more exciting and worthwhile waiting for me?
What about my hopes, dreams and desires?
Had my passions vanished in childbirth?
Although I intellectually recognized the importance of parenting my children, after a hard moment it was easy to feel as if I was wasting my “talents.”
That evening at the sink, darkness preyed upon my weakness.
The next week, I went to visit my longtime spiritual director. I told him about what happened and I said, “I felt like a spiritual attack.”
“It was a spiritual attack, Colleen,” Father said. “Whom does Satan hate more than a mother? Mother Mary was the only person Satan couldn’t get to because she was the only human outside of original sin. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, but Satan couldn’t get his claws into Mother Mary. He despises your vocation and wants you to abandon it. You are engaged in a holy work. Yes, you sin but in embracing motherhood you are embracing the will of God.”
Father’s words encouraged me to pay more attention to the lies Satan whispers about my vocation. French Jesuit and spiritual director, Father Jean-Pierre De Caussade, writes:
“…distinguishing the true inspirations from God from those which come from the devil, namely, that the former are always gentle, and peaceful, and lead us to confidence and humility while the latter are agitating and suspicious or even to presumption and the following of our own will.”
The voice of God and the voice of the demonic are altogether different and their inspirations lead to vastly different outcomes.
Satan's voice says: "You'll never change. What's the point? Why bother trying?”
The voice of God says: "I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)
Satan's voice: "Your work, your service? It's pointless. No one cares."
The voice of God: "I use the small, the weak and the sinful. Do you love me? 'Feed my sheep.'" (John 21: 17)
Satan's voice: "You're not working hard enough, trying hard enough. Harder, faster, better, stronger--that's the key to success."
The voice of God: "...and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just asI commanded you." (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
Satan's voice: "No one ever listens to you."
The voice of God: "I hear what you have to say. You mean something. You are important." (Isaiah 43:1)
Psalm 44 verse 15-16 describes the taunts of the evil one:
All day long my dishonor is before me
And my humiliation has overwhelmed me,
Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger.
Compare that to psalm 29 verse 4-5 which describes the voice of the God:
The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
The devil’s words are evil, turbulent, and embittered, filling the mind with discouraging thoughts that rob us of our peace. But Jesus’s words? They are gentle, calm, kind, and loving.
To whom are we listening?