Monday, January 24, 2011

Freedom Through Vocation

I have often wondered what people meant when they say that I will find my salvation through my vocation.  Or that by practicing a virtue in the small things helps you ultimately acquire that virtue on a grander scale.  I know it must be true, because I've read these things from very reliable sources over and over again.  But how exactly these ideas worked has been beyond me.  Until two days ago.

After an unusually rough week, Saturday afternoon found me with time to myself, and I headed to adoration.  I brought along The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, and reveled in the quiet, peacefulness of the church.  There I was struck by a very simple thought:

"The blessings gained through true poverty I think are many, and I wouldn't want to lose them." -p. 381

I realized through that small and simple sentence that by the small act of being obedient to my household budget and not going outside of it at all, would ultimately help me become more obedient to His will.  You see, I'm not very good at sticking to my budget.  I tend to see things I want while at the store, or think of things we could use at home, and all of a sudden, I need those things right now.  And it's so easy to just pull out the debit card if I don't have enough cash from my budget to pay for it.  My husband never questions me, because the cost is usually so low as to be absorbed in the rest of our budget.  But those small things add up.

And so I started to wonder how much we could have saved if I had had enough control to not make those purchases until they could be bought within the household budget allotted to them.  I don't know the number, but I'm guessing quite a bit.  And then I wondered how much lower my grocery bill would be if I cut out the many extras we get, and tried fruit and homemade items as our snacks, instead of boxed cookies, chips, ect.  Again, probably quite a bit.  Maybe enough that the bill would be a little more predictable, and allow me to save for those things I think are necessary.

It occurred to me that if I could temper myself enough to be obedient to my budget, and be creative in ways to cover those needs or wants that will ultimately come up, I could truly learn an important lesson in overall obedience.  And knowing myself, I'm unsure if there is another way for me to learn this lesson.  And isn't keeping my budget one of those vocational tasks assigned to me by the very fact of my being a wife and mother? 

You can see how the blanks started to fill in for me.  In His great wisdom, God knew I would never learn to be obedient to Him in any other way but where he put me.  He has given me the tools and the experiences I need, right here where I am, to grow closer to Him. 

Think about it.  How many times a day, especially with smaller children, must we as mothers practice patience?  And even when we blow it, you can bet in a few hours (or minutes sometimes) we'll have another opportunity to get it right.  And how many opportunities have our children given us to practice humility?  For a prideful person like myself, it's so important for me to be knocked off my horse in public now and then.

And since I'm working on being more joyful this year, and joy ultimately comes from an interior peace with God, I also realized that through this small act, I will be freed from the guilt that comes from going over my budget needlessly.  And it's freeing to deny myself certain things in order to offer them up for graces for myself and others.  And (can you see where I'm going with this?) by denying myself those small things, I can find joy in those things we already have.  I can learn to be thankful for the many (many, many) blessings God has given us.  All because I followed my budget.  All because I am trying to be obedient within the context of my vocation.

Maybe most of you have this idea figured out already.  But for me it's been a great revelation.  One that I hope I don't forget too soon.

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