The generosity of my friends, and of men and women I've not even met, has been mind boggling. At the very moment when I teeter on the brink of despair, a light of hope shines into our home, the Holy Spirit working through the lives and actions of so many wonderful people. No. I am not at all afraid of going without.
What I am afraid of is pity. I'm afraid of not being that effervescent person I was told I should always be. I'm afraid of failure. To fail at what I've set out to do seems infinitely worse than not allowing myself to try at all. I'm afraid that someday, when you're finished with my miniscule corner of the blogosphere, you'll feel less happy instead of more joyful. That you will leave thinking of me instead of my message, our story. And suddenly I am living in fear instead of hope. See what I mean? Sneaky, sneaky Fear.
Now I don't know if you've ever heard of this book, but it's called The Bible. Sometimes just "Bible" for short. If you ever have a chance to take a gander at it or google it and search for the word "fear", you'll note that the subject comes up a lot. I mean, all the time. And even though it's talked about by all sorts of different people in all sorts of different time periods during all sorts of different events, the basic gist is that afraid is something a truly faithful person must strive not to be. In my case, therefore, it indicates a big, fat lack of faith. I have faith sometimes about some things, sure. That's why I'm not afraid of change or newness or loneliness or risk. But I am afraid to be weak. To be pitied. To fail.
Naturally the very fact that I'm afraid of pity probably fills the softer hearts reading this with the very emotion I try so hard to circumvent, which is precisely why this is so difficult to write. But last Sunday I prayed to St. Joseph and on Saturday I finally heard his answer. That's why I have to be here, telling you all this.
I don't believe in coincidences. I do, however, believe wholeheartedly in Godincidences. Last Sunday morning we got up late. We had beloved house guests. We didn't make it out the door in time for mass at our parish. So I got online to find an evening mass in our area and there was only one at a reasonable hour of the evening for small children. And it was in Spanish. "Well, we're not going to not go to mass" one of us said (yes, that eloquently). So it was decided and we went. To St. Joseph's parish.
St. Joseph: patron saint of carpenters and craftsmen.
My husband: handcrafting wooden classical guitars.
Of fathers and families.
My husband, a father to our family.
St. Joseph: patron saint of people in doubt.
Me: in doubt
Could there have been a more beautiful inconvenience?
So we went and we prayed. All of us a special prayer for St. Joseph's intercession and guidance. His experience to guide my husband's hands. His fortitude to guide his heart.
Then the week rolled in with new ideas and new inspiration, a renewed sense of determination to make something work. To "make it happen." Ignited, of course, by our dwindling bank account, but fanned by our focus on the legacy of St. Joseph. There were real moments of excitement- as we discovered antique wooden doors in our barn that Tommy plans to transform into furniture; as he developed an idea to build a more affordable entry-level guitar with fewer bells and whistles so that more students can afford to buy from him; as we felt the surge of enthusiasm that had recently dwindled.
But there was nothing miraculous. It still felt like there should be something.... more. Something I was overlooking.
"Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity." - Pope Pius IX
That emphasis is mine because those words were St. Joseph's answer to me. To my prayers and uncertainty. In the face of my fears, the Church, in her timeless wisdom, in all her beautiful knowing, throws this fact: I am called, obligated, to use MY talents, too. No matter how nervous I am to share them with all of you or how ashamed I'm sure I'll feel the first time I'm turned down, I realize now that I have to do it anyway.
St. Joseph's intercession is not just about my husband succeeding in his efforts. It's not about me sitting back and throwing out advice about pricing and where to put the receipt for the new band-saw blade. It's about me banishing my fear of being weak, and being pitied, and failing. Because it is my responsibility to God to use the time He's so graciously granted me. To hone and glorify the talents that so readily reflect Him. To find the good not yet done and do it.
Because in the end it's not about me at all. It's about doing His will. So far, in pushing my talent to the side, I have been making it about me. In a sad, twisted way, it's been all about me not wanting to be let down. It's been all about me not wanting to put in effort for fear that I'll ultimately fail. In NOT doing it, I have been making it about me. In moving forward, I can make it about Him. His plans for my life. His plans for our family.
So here I am announcing to you that I have to write. I will write. Yes, still here on the blog, but also for others. Fall-leaf crafts or How-to-not electrocute yourself. Fending off a Pushy Labor & Delivery Nurse 101. Or: What is so Lovely about These Dry Erase Markers. I will write them and I will send them and someday, after much rejection and copious tears (on their part. When they realize in retrospect how fun I am. Well, usually I'm fun. Not today so much. Sorry about that...), somebody will pay me and I will be able to say "Look, St. Joseph, I stopped wasting my time !" and "Look Pope Pius IX, my talents are being used!".
And I am showing my weakness by saying we need your prayers. Not just because all I can think of are cliches to explain to you what our situation is like right now (e.g. "scraping the bottom of the barrel." An awful predicament for a would-be writer) but also because we could be in a pretty bad way soon financially. Things are not close to bleak or hopeless yet, but they are on the road that leads to those scary places and we can't turn it all around alone. We have our health, we have each other, we have our faith and we have our community. There is so much to be thankful for and I am SO. THANKFUL. All we pray for is a little more work sprinkled in among all the lovely play.