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Broken? ~ Stanza V ~ Part II

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

Broken ~ Stanza V ~ Part II

Flesh will tell us to seek comfort.
 “We deserve it! We work hard!”
Yet our spirits truly suffer,
when the ‘self’ gets high regard.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned on my spiritual journey is that the soul knows.

When I graduated from high school in 1977 all I wanted to do was get married and start a family, and I did. But as time went by, I found myself being greatly influenced by the TV shows, commercials, and the “experts” who were saying that stay-at-home-moms suffered – and were somehow mentally and socially stunted – because their most stimulating conversations were so often with children age three and under. One commercial in particular stays with me to this day. It perfectly epitomizes the “supermom” syndrome for me. The commercial stars a sophisticated, tall, thin, woman wearing a business suit (skirt, jacket, and high-heels). I don’t remember all the details but I do remember the song she sang in a provocative voice and manner. “I can bring home the bacon……..fry it up in the pan……..and never, ever let you forget you’re a man…..’cause I’m a woooooo-man!…… W-O-M-A-N.”

I fell for it, hook, line………and sinker. I went out and got a job; part-time at first, working evenings when my husband was home to watch the kids. Then came the lure of a bigger house, newer cars, etc., etc.  Part-time became full-time when my youngest was in school all day and soon I was working, and taking classes, in order to move up the company ladder. Fast-forward ten years and I had almost completed my degree (one class at a time, usually online), had moved up the ladder to a point where I was completely miserable (because I was being asked to do things that I believe were unethical.), and I found myself in tears one morning, physically unable to move my feet to walk out the door and go to work.

Why? Because I was living a lie. I was pretending to be somebody I’m not, and deep inside I knew it. I had been unhappy with my job (and lifestyle), for several years, but didn’t think we could survive without my income. I was afraid of what people would say, so I stayed until I was mentally and emotionally worn out. Then God gave me a mid-life crisis, and turned me toward Himself. I quit my job, gave my life to Jesus, and miraculously we are still managing! Best of all, the people-pleasing aspect of my ‘false self’ is gone, I am happier than I ever have been, and I possess a genuine sense of deep peace, the kind the world cannot give.

Please do not misunderstand me!! I am not saying that all women should stay in the home and none of us hold outside jobs. What I am saying applies to both women and men, and it is simply this: put God first in your life and everything else will fall into place. (Funny…..isn’t that what the Bible teaches?)  I allowed the media, its propaganda, and the opinions of others to take a higher degree of importance in my life than God. I put my ‘self’’ and worldly things first and I have suffered much because of it.

Our souls come to us from God, and they have kind of a ‘homing device’ built-in that seeks and wants to be reunited with Him. But when we ignore the internal promptings we can damage and even kill our conscience.

Just as there are natural laws we must adhere to if we want to remain healthy – such as eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and recreation – there are also spiritual laws that, when we follow them, enable us to be ‘whole’. These are found in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the lives of the saints, the Catechism and other official teachings of the Catholic Church. We are spiritualized bodies, and we cannot neglect the needs of our soul without suffering the consequences, just as we cannot neglect our bodies without suffering the consequences.

One of the best ways to remain spiritually healthy is by frequenting the sacraments. I like to think of the sacraments as spiritual vitamins that help me avoid temptations, inspire me to do and seek what is good for my neighbor and myself, strengthen me to fight against the sins that I fall into most often, and to persevere on the path of holiness.

The very best axiom I’ve heard in regard to the topic of selfishness and how to overcome it is this:

God first, everybody else second, me last.

Love & Prayers,

Becky

This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published.

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a "re-formed Catholic" who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be "fully Catholic" What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. "I've heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, 'If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.' I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to "make straight the path of the Lord", and with his role as "Friend of the Bridegroom". The poem, "Broken?" written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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  • Serena

    JOY: Jesus, Others, You, in that order. I hardly ever live like that, even more rarely think like that, but I know that when I do I end up happier.

    • Becky Ward

      🙂 I like that!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Vicki

      This is what I always tell my kids J-O-Y – in order to have it, they must put Jesus first… Once in a while, I hear the little ones reminding each other (usually when they want them to share something with them:-)).

      • $1650412

        LOL! Children! They keep us honing our craft of mothering and sharing the gospel within our primary apostolate!

  • LizEst

    Thanks Becky. Nice write-up.

    This reminds me of a few things:
    1. “Seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). [Happy Feast of St. Matthew today!] and
    2. “Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me only in light of your love” (Psalm 25:7).
    3. The Bible would be a good addition to your list of all those great places where spiritual laws are to be found.

    Wow!…you can still remember the 70s ;o) Ha! You are blessed!

  • GrowingInSpirit

    Jesus first, Others second, You last says Serena and yes I too heard that and yes; it’s true. But; in the Spirit of God understanding, might the real truth be that if wholly (holy) in tune to Jesus within; there’s no 1st, 2nd, or last…but just one
    Whole person: You! I hear you Serena; it’s a difficult thing to achieve perfectly ‘while of flesh’ / fully Whole? One with God? You do make a good point; when you do at times get to that point on some things; there’s a happiness. Guess who made you feel that happiness? Consolation is what was experienced. God’s consolation saying; ahhh beautiful…you had it that time. Then, still being human – we do slip back to our ‘old self’ a bit Perfect Wholeness is difficult. (our elders up in age get more such consolations; as they recline in the Golden Years; they don’t need to fight anymore, they have all they need and find they didn’t need all that much ‘anyway’, and they served well and so God grants them peace and enjoyment…wholeness; if they handled things rightly) Some are still edgy and grouchy even when old.

    • Becky Ward

      Wow. Great insights. You hit on a very high ideal here. 🙂 Yes, we are one in the Body of Christ. And once we have been purified and entered into His heart…as the saints do…we are unable to desire anything but what is in the best interest of our brothers and sisters……all of them! This means we learn to give, and to receive, as God would have us do…..simply because it is the right thing to do. The things we do for others comes back to us…so we DO help ourselves by helping others.
      Yet we are human……and in our humanity we need axioms and other things to light the path and help us stay on track. It’s a growing process……..and we need lots of tools and other souls to help us on the journey.
      Blessings……….

  • GrowingInSpirit

    Nice.

    I can imagine that commercial being sung by Mary.

    I can take the ser-paaaant; crush him under my he-eeel; keeping in mind I was made from a rib I can support man and still fee-eeel always following God’s perfect w-iiii-lllll… for I am
    wo-man!

    God will is for woman to be whole. Love, knowledge, and action for the benefit of all.

    As you state: it’s important to keep all in good order and then we feel at peace.

    • Becky Ward

      THANK YOU! I love that image of Mary singing….this has truly touched my heart and I am so grateful to have this to hold on to and to replace that awful song in my heart and mind.

  • LizEst

    The part about loving the neighbor is actually further defined by Jesus: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). And, “This is my commandment: love one another AS I LOVE YOU. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13) [emphasis mine].

    It is one thing to love someone as you love yourself. It is quite another thing to love as Christ has loved us, as God so loved the world. This is surely what good parents and spouses do for their families: they lay down their lives for them in a very self-emptying and unselfish way putting, as Becky wrote, God first, everyone else second and themselves last.

  • Chuck

    Beautiful!

  • Hilarie

    Thank you for your wonderful validation of stay at home moms. I too struggled emotionally because of my decision to “have it all.” I am now learning to “let go and let God,” and this has helped to bring me inner peace.

  • Becky Ward

    Dear GrowingInSpirit,
    Thank you for your insights. My point for this post was that “The Soul Knows.” I got pulled out into the working world when it was not where I belonged. Did I learn from it? Did God bless even my mistakes? Absolutely! Yet now that I have put God first in my life….I see that I knew all along, deep down, that something wasn’t right with what I was doing. My soul knew…….I just wasn’t able – at that point in my life – to understand what that ‘feeling’ meant, and I hope to encourage others to learn to listen to their hearts…regardless of their vocation and/or careers. We can’t do this, can’t love ourselves OR our neighbor rightly without putting God first in our lives, because it is from HIM that all else flows.

    • abandon56

      Beautiful, Becky. And I would add that
      “The Soul Knows” is a great axiom for discernment
      in many other areas of life as well as vocations. Recently the advice to ask the following question has been very helpful. Ask, “Is this for me?” especially regarding the interior life and what God may be doing or asking of me.

    • LizEst

      Beautiful, Growing in Spirit! There is an old saying, “God writes straight with crooked lines!” Yes, the Lord can bring good even out of the worst situations in our lives. Blessed be the Lord, our God, for whom nothing is impossible!

  • Thank you, Becky, for a great post!

    Does anyone think God can call us to the religious life and that ignoring that and going forward to marry and have a family can be a mistake?

    I felt a strong call to be “married” to Jesus when I was 24. But at that time I 1) felt that I was damaged goods because I was not a virgin by then, nor by 16 either…and I had misused my sexuality tremendously. 2) believed that since I had already lived with men (plural, believe me) that I could never live the celibate life.
    So I think I ignored what could have been a genuine call and kept plunging into relationships looking for “the one” guy who just, at least, marry me…
    At the same time I was totally caught up in the career track as I struggled to get a PhD. I always felt like an imposter who did not belong but I kept plugging away and finally succeeded tremendously in school and later in work with prestigious positions, etc..But I never felt peace.
    Finally I did marry and thought everything would work out especially when I came back to my faith and my husband became Catholic too. Right after this he left me for another woman (after being together for sixteen years and me raising 4 step daughters) and I have been alone for three years trying to finish raising two teenage boys on my own.
    Do you think God took away my husband so that I could hear His call to be only with Him? Could I have missed my vocation all those years ago? and is it too late now? I know its never too late to put Him first and to live a life more centered around Him, but I was wondering what others thought.
    I feel most at peace now when I think of staying single and celibate from now forward and, even if not a nun (cos who would take me being 59 when my boys finish high school?).
    Gratefully, I feel that I am listening to the Lord better now (funny how we do get better at that after years of doing everything “My Way”!)…just wondered if anyone can relate…

    • Becky Ward

      Yes, Alexandra, I can relate. Not only that, but I know an order that would take you if it was discerned that this is truly your calling. The Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program is a really good way for you to find out what your vocation is. You can find more here: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2012/08/17/introducing-becky-ward-and-the-disciples-of-jesus-and-mary
      One of the disciples in my area, who was also divorced, was a DJM for many years and decided that she wanted to become a nun. She just took her first vows in July! 🙂
      God sees your heart Alexandra, and there are probably many reasons you made the choices you did….for me, ignorance was one of the biggest. I too wonder sometimes if I was ‘supposed’ to be a nun….but I have learned to trust that if that was ‘really’ what God wanted me to do/be…..I would have found myself there.
      I have children and grandchildren that I cannot imagine being without….my marriage has had its share of struggles, but God is healing that too….as I have chosen to give Him my whole life.
      Once I made that decision…..and have received the grace to stick with it……life just gets better and better.
      Sending prayers and hugs!

      Alexandra, please send me an email at: rebelbecca13@yahoo.com

    • $1650412

      Alexandra, God is definitely working so beautifully in your life even through the places where you share there is damage! I think in all circumstances we should look at now and forward when we think about where we need to be and where we are going- and we have the wisdom and perspective (with great depth in your case it sounds like to me) from our past to help us and to help us to serve others in Christ. You never know what Jesus has in store for you, I think it sounds very exciting! And as an offhanded observer I do want to hazard the speculation that Jesus is calling you to be exclusively attached to Him now and in the future and to be very hopeful as to how that might be most perfectly expressed as He directs you in that! Alexandra, there is no one who is not scuffed up by sin- the gift we have in that is that we can accept very readily the gift of humility and embrace with wider hearts the joy of our salvation- for the one who is forgiven much, loves much– and in this, Jesus is delighted! Thank you for sharing, a courageous testimony! Bless you!

    • Remember the labourers who were sent to His Vineyard at the eleventh hour????? they received the same wages as the ones who had been toiling – in all the heat – since the early morning……..God is never late…..His Time is the Right Time. Listed to what He is telling you, and do it. He has been guiding your life all along without you being aware of it. His Love is Infinite, never forget that.

  • Ramanie

    Thank you Becky. This is a great article. God Bless you always.

  • Wow, Becky, that was powerful. I love this part of my Daily Prayer which resounds with what you have written, and what you finally did when you answered His Call:

    “Since in the past I have lived aside from You Who are my Beginning, my End and my Supreme Good; since I had turned towards myself and creatures, preferring their will and mine to Yours, I here and now, with the help of Your Grace, promise and resolve to renounce entirely and forever the world and myself, and to give myself wholly and forever to You”.

    May He bless you abundantly for the wisdom you impart to us all. You will never know just how many people you encourage and give hope……but you will, when – again by God’s unfathomable Mercy – we meet in Heaven.

    • That prayer is beautiful! Might start praying it as well! 🙂

      • Yes, Mary, it is a beautiful and very powerful Prayer. When we ask God to help us draw closer to Him, he always obliges. Even if we keep on slipping back to our old sinful tendencies and foibles, He knows we are wounded and very weak and He is patient with us – always. Be blessed.

    • Becky Ward

      LOVE This Mary! Thank you!

  • Hey, Becky, and all of you blessed people of God. Reading your struggles and agonies and our responses to you, I have come across this wonderful Meditation which echoes what all of us are trying to understand and relate to with regard to the individual choices which we have made in our respective life situations:

    “Silent Insight – Daily Catholic Meditations
    Daily Meditation – Active IndifferencePosted: 21 Sep 2012 10:00 PM PDTConsider your current life and the many gifts and choices for such items as career, relationships, education, finances, etc. How does one decide upon a specific direction or certain concentration among the various choices? One could follow fads, ones own desires, or a personal goal. A fourth way is more difficult and begins with the premise that I will not do anything to break my relationship with God. Subsequently, I then wait to find what God hopes in me. This mind-set has it’s foundation in the belief that I can know what God desires in me and that I can find out.To achieve such insight one holds in balance the tremendous gifts and choices of ones life world without making one thing the sole focus that will incline the decision one way or another. Rather, one does not try to tell God what will make them happy but rather will wait to find out what God hopes in them and live confidently that God will reveal such desire and that it will make them happy.Sure, we would all like a nice bright billboard to display clear guidance. However, the process takes prayer, consideration, counsel with trusted friends and all the while always desiring to find what God wants first. It is through God’s many gifts that make a person a great force for good. What a power one who is indifferent and does not cling to wealth or poverty, sickness or health, a certain location or other matter! Rather, only desiring what draws one closer to God and hence truly finding God in all things.”

  • kayet

    I completely, thoroughly hated that stupid commercial–glad to see it given the opprobrium it derserves. I wonder how many other people were taken in by it.

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