I like to think of myself as caring and empathetic but well, that’s not always the case. I can be selfish, turning inwards when I should be thinking of others, being impatient, and all those other things that I beat myself up about on a daily basis. But this one time where I let my pride get in the way of true charity still gets to me.
That mom with the kids at church
I was at church one morning with my family and saw a mom by herself with three small kids. She was obviously struggling with them and seemed to be hanging on by a thread. She was trying to keep them all quiet and would periodically get up and walk around with the youngest in hopes of soothing her.
I could totally relate. Going to church with little kids should be an automatic ticket into heaven. If you manage to get through without a blowout or a kid running down the aisle or a kid keeping all their clothes on, you’re a saint. This mom was doing awesome.
At the end of Mass, I held the door open for her as she struggled with the baby car seat while the two other kids held onto her skirt.
I said to her, “you are doing an amazing job.” She smiled weakly and proceeded to wrangle the kids to attempt to cross the parking lot safely.
Then I walked away.
My gosh, did I feel terrible later after I got over the initial elation of encouraging this mom. Sure, I was encouraging her but really, I should have helped her with her kids, offered to take the baby car seat from her while she held the hands of her little ones crossing the street. I should have at least offered.
The unseen burden
She seemed to be almost in tears. I don’t know what else she was dealing with but as moms, I know we have a lot going through our hearts all day long. We are always dealing with some heartache, some hidden cross.
Why does this bother me so much? I think it was because I saw she was outwardly struggling, and I could guess she was inwardly trying to overcome obstacles as well, at least emotionally, and I was so caught up in my pride of saying one encouraging word and then walking away when I know I should have done more. My stupid pride. It gets in the way of everything.
More than encouragement
All of us moms have a ton on our minds. They are like an internet browser with at least 25 tabs open. I am still beating myself up about this encounter because I should have done more than encourage her. I should have offered something more, offered a hand, really asked her how she was doing.
I’ve thought about this a lot and I’ve since tried to do more than just encourage others going through hard times. I’ll send them a meal or specifically ask them what they need and if I can pray for them or take time to just listen. How much relief would we get if someone took five minutes to just listen to us? I know I’d feel a heck of a lot better each day.
We have opportunities every day, I’m sure of it, to show the love of Jesus to others, even in the smallest of ways like St. Therese so wisely sought to do in her lifetime. I’d encourage you to think about ways, both big and small, to help others and a light of hope and peace in their lives.