Exhausted by six months of family togetherness, Christina Antus draws strength from a portrayal of faith done right.
Remember 15 days to flatten the curve?
Yeah, me too.
That feels like 47 years ago because it was.
When this biological-political-faith-challenging circus started, I was coming home from a silent retreat at a local Benedictine abbey. If you've never been on a silent retreat, you should know that reintegrating into the material world is tough enough without a global pandemic during a hostile presidential election year.
But I was set on making sure I made the most of this opportunity. I went into this swinging with both arms, fighting the good and holy fight for my vocation as a wife and a mom. I would happily homemake and fill this lockdown with so much love I would smother my family with joy or die trying.
That lasted about three weeks.
Then reality set in.
We had nowhere to go and nothing to do.
Everyone started to get tired of being around each other. Our kids were fighting over little things like So-and-So said they had blond hair (they do) or the cat walked by their bedroom, stepping on the carpet too hard (she probably did not). Even outside, there wasn't enough space because everyone had to share air.
The tattle-tale vocations in this house increased ten-fold. No one was safe from being told on. Not the cat. Not the baby. Not even me. Ever have your husband come home from work only to have your 5-year-old meet him at the door to say, "Guess what Mom did today," while the 8-year-old whispers, "busted."
I set out to appreciate the extra time God gave me with my family, and I spent most of it hiding from them in my closet, eating candy.
I'm not kidding.
I'm talking party-sized bag after party-sized bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms that I did not share.
It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that everything finally clicked.Four and a half months later.
I know I'm not the quickest pistol in the draw.
I was watching Mass on my phone while kneeling before the crucifix hanging on our wall. Below that crucifix is this photo we bought at Costco a few years ago.
I bought it because it reminded me of the story of Jesus leaving the boat to casually stroll on the water in the middle of a storm — also, it was on sale, and we needed something for the wall.
I see this photo every day, and I never notice it. I go in and out of my room all day long without a glance. I fold laundry on the bed underneath it. I've seen it, but I've never really looked at it before. That boat sits on the calm water bathed in the warmth of the sunset (or sunrise). It radiates peace and tranquility, just looking at it. Two things I have not been able to find much of these past four months.
This photo represents faith when it’s done right. This photo is a wonderful goal; to feel the way it looks. Except, we can't feel the way this looks if we're not trusting in God.
For the past several months, my focus has been on the world. So, my boat slowly tipped in the water without me noticing until I was almost submerged. The colors are dark blue and black, and I'm hanging onto the side from inside the water. My shoe is floating nearby and one of my kids keeps asking me "why" questions that have no answer. Meanwhile, another is announcing from the kitchen that she spilled an entire gallon of milk on the floor.
I burned out three months ago.
I don't want to do this anymore.
I want it to stop.
I hate this.
I want to let go of the boat and float away.
But I don't.
I manage to climb back in because I know I can’t hang on much longer and all there is left to do is to surrender it all. To ask for help. Being in the boat is better than staying in the water because I know God guides the boat so long as I let Him.
And sometimes, friends, that's all we're asked to do, just to get back in the boat.
Sometimes, it's all we can do.
All things pass, and only God remains. That’s all we need to remember in these times. He remains. Not the world or its problems.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton once said, "We must often draw the comparison between time and eternity. This is the remedy of all our troubles. How small will the present moment appear when we enter that great ocean."
You can't get into the ocean without a boat and your boat can’t navigate itself.
So if you're where I was, climb back into the boat. Offering up your frustrations and ask God to guide you. Fish your shoe out of the water, clean up the spilled milk, and go tell the cat to quit walking on the carpet so hard.
I promise it's a much less stressful way to ride the rest of this out.
Copyright 2020 Christina Antus
Images (top to bottom): Pixabay (2016); copyright 2020 Christina Antus, all rights reserved.