“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” – Blessed Mother TeresaWhen you think of a missionary a few things pop into your mind; building houses, digging wells, providing food and water for the hungry, clothes for the naked, preaching the gospel with our actions and then with our words if situations call for it. As a young woman I thought I was being called to the contemplative life. I could pray, I prayed all the time. I could quietly move from one activity to another, just doing my duty and minding my own business. I always looked at the missionaries with awe and a feeling of "there is NO way I could be that/do that/be called to that".
The funny thing is being older, looking at my life, my children, my situation here with these people God has put in my life and feeling like, "Oh my gosh, I am a missionary!" I am called to do all those things in my family, with my children, with my husband, with people I meet. And I'm called to teach them to be the same way as well. Mother Teresa, the ultimate missionary if ever there was one, was so amazing in saying that we should do small things with great love. It's those things that can make the biggest difference sometimes. My children need all those things from me. My husband needs my prayers, my help running our home and raising our children, he needs my example of how to live a Christian life because he didn't grow up with a clear knowledge of what that is. (This is all so daunting to me, and I feel superiorly under-qualified most days).
I'd like to talk about doing those things, those missionary works, and when we least feel like doing them. We are the masters of our body, but so often our body (and our mind at times), does not want to cooperate in those works. I don't feel like cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, doing laundry, reading to the kids, saying prayers over/with a screaming child. "I don't feel happy when I am doing" them, you might say to yourself one day when you have gotten little sleep and little ones are uncooperative. The thing is that those things still need to be done. Your work does not end just because you are tired, crabby, cranky, over worked, underpaid, or feeling unappreciated. That is the time when the real work begins...in you. I believe that often times our missionary work is not so much about what we are doing for others (although those things are good and we should do them because Our Lord asked us to do them), but that some work is being done in us as we do them. We are being taught to love, by practicing love. Jesus begged the Father to not let him go through his impending death, but he still picked up his cross and marched on even when he kept falling because he loves us.
The thing is, love isn't about doing what you feel like doing all the time. Love isn't about having that "feeling" all the time. Real love, being a real missionary, is doing what is right because you know it's right and you know it's true. Those things together let you see the beauty in your everyday life...if you pay attention. Your seemingly meaningless tasks of missionary work are Great because you practice love when you do them most especially when you don't want to.
I don't wear a habit, I don't dig wells, or do extraordinary things. I do the small things because practicing love makes them big things. Practicing love when you don't feel love...well, that's real love in my eyes.
Now...I'm going to go clean up that dog food all over my porch. Definitely not because I want to, but because I'm practicing love (