“Happy is the man who has filled his quiver,” says Psalm 127.
Lately I have been reflecting on this passage of scripture, which causes me to ask myself the question: is my quiver truly “full”? Am I working daily to prepare myself for possible battles with temptation and trials?
Of course I don’t want to be a pessimist, and go through each day fearfully anticipating tidings of ill news. Yet my conscience continues to provoke me with these questions: am I making a real effort to fill myself with good and holy ideas, strong convictions, and am I deepening my faith through having recourse to prayer and the sacraments?
Do I remain with Christ each day in my thoughts and through my struggles? In what ways do I work to protect my marriage, my relationships with my children, family and friends, so that when a storm hits, my foundation is built firmly on a rock?
We know from experience that no relationship can remain stagnant. Just as our relationship with Christ must continue to go deeper or it will wither and die, so too, our relationships with other people require consistent and conscious effort. Surely we are fools if we expect life to flow along each day without encountering some upsets in the course of our way.
In my own experience, I know that I have lived an extremely blessed and happy life, and so it can be difficult at times for me to understand my duty in the area of continual growth and development as a person, a mother, and a wife. Too often, I face each day with an expectation that things should flow nicely along; but then come certain days and weeks where I re-realize my imperfect humanity, as well as notice the imperfections of my spouse and children.
I often react to these experiences with surprise and frustration.
Because I married a man who was raised in the Catholic Faith as I was, and whose core convictions and beliefs were always in accord with my own, I easily take for granted the many ways in which we understand each other and think along the same lines.
But the truth is, no matter how closely we think or act, we are different persons with unique personality needs and temperaments. Thus I am made holy (and also find the most happiness) in the vocation of marriage when I consciously strive to put my husband’s needs before my own.
Why is this fact so continually shocking and difficult to live out? Perhaps because there is immediate pleasure in self-gratification; yet, too quickly we find this pleasure to be short-lived and ultimately unsatisfactory.
Just this past week, I was fighting the onset of a cold and feeling tired and irritable most evenings. My husband was working hard to give me time to myself in the evenings, and he would watch the children so that I could pursue an activity which I wanted to do.
As the week went by, however, I began to realize that time to myself was not bringing about the true contentment which I sought. Everything I tried to do felt insignificant, and I often found myself still feeling grouchy even after my alone time.
So on Sunday, I made an effort to spend the day with my family, focused on doing fun outdoor activities together, and making an effort to have more conversation with my husband. That evening I experienced a deeper sense of peace and relaxation than I had all week.
Perhaps it was chance, but I tend to think that the experience proved something important: how good conversations and wholesome family activities don’t usually just “happen” on their own, and that the things which I think will fulfill me in my free time don’t always do the job.
Some days I do really need time to myself, but other days I may discover a truer kind of fulfillment when I give that time freely to bettering my relationships with those around me. Relationships matter most, and any good psychologist will tell us that developing stronger bonds with those close to us is the best method of “fireproofing” our mental health.
Experiencing my own self-worth through the love and attention of those around me provides security and tranquility within the deepest part of my being. It only makes sense, therefore, that giving of myself freely to those relationships will bring about the deepest joy and truest peace both to myself and to those on whom I focus my love and attention.
By strengthening our family relationships each day, and month, and year, we are ultimately working to build those strong walls around our family which will protect us in the midst of storms.
For if we don’t build bonds of love, generosity and self-sacrifice, something else will take up our time, and we may be surprised to discover weaknesses in the very walls of the relationships which matter most to us.
Family Dinner © Monkey Business Images / Dollar Photo Club