Pope Benedict XVI said in one of his Wednesday Audiences that "The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that complete fulfilment lies in conforming our human will to the will of the Father, in emptying ourselves of our selfishness, to fill ourselves with God’s love, with his charity, and thereby become capable of truly loving others.”Instead of thinking of my "no's" to myself as negatives or moments of self-denial, I have started thinking of them as ways to practice self-emptying. Am I denying myself something in that moment, yes. But by turning self-denial on it's head, what seems to be a denial is actually an acceptance. I am accepting where God has put me in this present moment. I am embracing my vocation as a mother who is blessed with a house to care for and four children to raise. I am thankful that my husband has a work schedule to schedule around when there are so many who have no work at all. In this process, I've discovered through self-emptying I'm not only filling up with God, He is planting ideas and inspirations for how to seek new ways to do the things I want within my present circumstances. Here's a few examples of how I'm trying to turn these moments of self-denial into opportunities for self-emptying, as well as some of the ideas the Holy Spirit has given me.
Opportunities and Inspirations
- Instead of sitting down and reading for an hour during quiet time like I would prefer, I keep my book open on the counter so I can sneak in a few pages while waiting for water to boil for dinner. I also made this cool book weight out of pennies, duct tape, and washi tape because some books are stubborn and won't stay open! It is also freeing up quiet time so I can better care for our home.
- My husband's job is such that presently I cannot be sure of his ability to be home at a set time every week, making it challenging for me to sign up for an exercise class of any kind (exercising is challenging for me; I lack both the discipline and motivation for it. Making a commitment to a specific class helps keep me honest and on track). However, I have gotten much better about keeping on track of our family's commitments with my planner and just scoped out the family room at the gym. I'm going to be making a "class time" for myself to go and use the family room at least twice a week this summer (cross your fingers and say a prayer for me!). I am caring for myself and through that, I am able to care for my family better.
- The apricots? Well, this year it had to be a solid no. But, thankfully the Holy Spirit was being extra present with me that day because it dawned on me that even though I'm saying "No" to my beloved jam this year, it doesn't mean that I will have to say "no" again next year. Call me crazy, but "No" doesn't have to mean "Never"! Who would have guessed it. Maybe this season of life isn't quite my jam season. And that's OK. It is a season of learning to empty myself of the worldly things I can fill my life with and choose instead of let God fill me with His Will and His designs for my life.
What are some ways that you can practice self-emptying? Do you see an area in your life where self-denial could be transformed into an opportunity for self-emptying and a greater acceptance of God's Will?
Copyright 2018 Kate Taliaferro
About the Author
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mom of 4. She has a Masters in Religious Education and tries to find God's presence in all parts of her day, be it cooking, cleaning or just the everyday ordinary. She enjoys homeschooling, stitching crafts and finding cheerios between the couch cushions. She blogs at Daily Graces.