When our parish’s Mothers’ Group asked me to be a guest speaker, I jumped at the chance. I love to share my faith. And I love being a mother. I was thrilled for the opportunity. But at the same time, I was scared.
I’m a perfectionist. For weeks I scrawled notes while waiting in carpool lines, cooking dinner or watching television. Days before the talk, however, I still hadn’t perfected my presentation. Worse yet, distractions abounded. Deadlines loomed. Our roof sprung a leak. The car broke down.
Finally, the night before my speech, I made a simple plan. My goal was to illustrate the importance of faith in a young child’s life.
I pulled a picture of the Blessed Mother from our teenage daughter’s bedroom. We had given it to her for her eighth birthday, along with an Easy Bake oven, a pink ‘Skip-It’, and a plush teddy bear. Her thank you note, handwritten in chunky second-grade print, read, “Dear Mom and Dad; Thank you for my birthday presents. I liked the Mary picture best.” I made copies of it for handouts, hoping to illustrate how kids appreciate holiness.
I arrived early for the meeting. As we gathered, I prayed for these holy women of faith. With three nearly grown daughters, I understood the magnitude of their humble work. I felt honored to be in their presence. We formed a circle and prayed. Then, sitting beside them, I leaned forward and spoke.
I recalled the joys of chasing shadows with my toddler in the late afternoon sun. I recollected the power of three Hail Mary’s and the peace they delivered as my brother lay dying twenty days after our youngest was born. I remembered transforming a boring day into lifetime memories when my two preschoolers and I strolled to the grocery store and bought an éclair to share on the way home. I recalled the nagging inner voice that convinced me to become a Brownie leader when I didn’t really want to, and the incredible support the commitment provided at a time I needed it most.
I forgot about the Mary picture. I never distributed the handouts. I barely glanced at my outline. I engaged with the moms. At the conclusion, everyone graciously thanked me.
Later, however, I struggled. What if I bored them? How could I have abandoned my plan? Why did I forget the handouts? I chastised myself for not being more professional, informative, or organized. Then another realization surfaced.
God doesn’t want our perfection, he wants our faithfulness.
With that, I found peace. I fulfilled the invitation to speak. My mission was complete.
You have a task, too. Don’t be afraid to offer what you have. Your gift is important. It may not be much; it may be flawed. God will take the five loaves and two fish and multiply it. You may be a stuttering Moses or an aged Sarah, but He will work wonders with a willing heart.
After all, it’s not all about us. It’s all about him.
By Debra Tomaselli