On Motherhood (by Mary Ford)

Apr 24, 2017 by

On Motherhood (by Mary Ford)

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word,” Mary humbly proclaims to the Archangel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation. And so great was her humility, her love, her acceptance of the divine will of God that she became the Mother of God at that moment. What fruit her motherhood bore – and is bearing – for the world! Because of Mary’s “Fiat”, her humble “yes” to God, humanity was saved. The faithful are allowed to enter into Heaven because of her willing motherhood.

Reflecting on this now, I’m struck by the complete gift of self that Mary made at the moment of the Incarnation. I’ve often heard in the course of my life as a Catholic that we ought to follow Mary’s example, that she is the perfect role model for us to imitate in following God’s will. This perfect acceptance of God’s will is what prompted Kevin and me to name our farm in St. Leo “Fiat Farms.” We wanted to offer our work, our family life, our prayer, and our play as a constant “Fiat” to God’s will. I’m afraid sticking to this model of faithfulness was more difficult for us than we had first supposed, however.

I’ve never found anything better to teach me on a daily basis about accepting God’s will than farming. Success in farming is very dependent on the weather, the climate, how many pests are present, etc., all of which are circumstances largely out of a farmer’s control. This “out of control” aspect of farming is an excellent teacher of trust in God. I can vividly remember one evening in our second year in St. Leo when a hail storm, accompanied by the unhelpful temperature of 32 degrees, swept over our farm. It was springtime, and a large portion of our crops were still only beginning to put up hopeful, tender shoots towards the sun. When it first began, Kevin and I immediately knelt in prayer, asking our Lord to protect our farm and drive the storm away, Sea of Galilee style. Instead, the hail storm continued far into the night. As the hail continued to fall, Kevin and I looked at each other from our position kneeling there on the floor, and Kevin gave me a sad smile. It was a smile that acknowledged both the destruction of all our work up to that point and the fact that God was willing all this, whether we understood it or not. It was one of the first tests of our dedication to the motto of “let it be done to me”.

There have been many other tests since, for “the Lord chastises those he loves” (Heb. 12:6). The latest of these tests came recently when Kevin had some sort of rapid-beat episode with his heart, an incident scary enough to send him by ambulance to the ER. He was released the same night, a mild prognosis given, and told not to worry unless it kept happening. But seeing him strapped to a stretcher and driven away in an ambulance that evening, despite the gentle smile of love and reassurance he gave me, I felt much of my security stripped away. It was a life-changing moment, realizing that my husband might not come home again. The process to acceptance of God’s will in this matter was very slow to start. I raged against God for allowing this to happen, to even approach me with the possibility that my husband could be taken from me and my children. It took some days, lots of prayer and raw, frank conversation with my husband, but I finally began to feel some peace with whatever the Lord was planning for Kevin and for all of us. And in those moments and days following the incident, I realized exactly how much I had been allowing indifference and “it’s good enough” attitudes to creep into my day-to-day life. I knew then how ungrateful I’d been for the many gifts I’ve been given. I approached my duties as a wife and a mother with much renewed vigor and fidelity to the vows of self-gift I’d made on the altar ten years ago to my husband. And I became grateful for every moment with him and with my children. I have been given this great gift of time and memories with my loved ones, and I know from painful experience that I shouldn’t let a single moment pass in indifference to my duties, my sorrows, and my joys as a wife and mother. I pray God gives me the grace to remember this lesson and that he will help me to accept his will in my life and in the lives of my loved ones without the need to go through this trial all over again!

What does all this “acceptance of God’s will” have to do with motherhood? Everything. Because a wife and mother must sometimes face her worst fears, be it as a farm wife listening to a storm destroying the crops, or as a wife and mother of any sort watching her husband being rushed away to the hospital. She must be able to give her “Fiat” for the unexpected; indeed, she must even expect the unexpected with open hands and heart, for it is certainly not unusual for God to have plans that differ from our own. In this, Mary is our model. She accepted motherhood of the highest sort, despite the risks, despite the promise of pain, and despite not knowing how exactly her Son would accomplish the will of the Father in his time on earth, and she never once shirked her duties as a wife and mother. Despite not being able to see all of the story of Salvation in the moment of the Incarnation, Mary still chose to trust God completely. And that has made all the difference in the world.

God bless you,

Mary

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6 Comments

  1. Carolyn Thieme

    Kevin and Mary, I wish that more people in this world had just a small bit of your faith. Sometimes we get busy with our lives and forget who is totally in charge of our lives. We, as humans, naturally have to question “WHY?” but upon pondering what has happened to us in our lives, we realize that He has put us just where we are supposed to be. We have to keep in mind that in order to be with Him later, we have to put our trust in Him daily.
    Everyone has been through some tough times and sometimes, not always came out “smelling like a rose”, but hopefully there have been lessons learned.
    Our parish just completed the “33 Days to Merciful Love”, a do it yourself retreat, ending yesterday, on Divine Mercy Sunday. This is a consecration to Divine Mercy with St. Therese of Lisieux. I highly recommend this to everyone. Thanks for keeping us updated with your blogs. I have missed them.
    Love and prayers to you and your family during this Easter season.
    Carolyn

    • Kevin Ford

      Hi, Carolyn,

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and especially for keeping up with us even though you’ve moved! God bless you!

      In Christ,
      Mary Ford

      • NIdahoCatholic

        “A pint a day keeps the atrial fibrillation away.”

  2. Darren Cook

    A good lesson. I too had racing heart, in college. The tests came out clear and the doctor suggested I needed more rest and less caffeine. I had found my limits.
    I suppose it’s this that causes me to not push myself too hard sometimes, which also takes a measure of faith. I was one who would just go go go doing a million things. Since that incident, I have learned to scale it back, only do what I can, and in faith leave the rest undone and up to God. It’s hard, as I want to do everything. What is harder (and a lesson I am still wrestling to learn) is how to simplify so there is less to do. ;). In any case, the racing heart never did come back, as long as I got enough sleep. Psalm 127:2 became important to me:
    In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
    toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.
    I guess that was my fiat, saying yes to doing less, and as God taught me more clearly many years later, surrender to do what he has placed in front of me to do this moment, and not chase after a million things. Which right now means stop writing and get up and get the kids to school and myself to work. 🙂

    Thanks for this thought-provoking article.

    • Kevin Ford

      Thanks, Darren, for sharing your own experiences! God bless you!

      In Christ,
      Kevin and Mary Ford

  3. Fabien

    Dear Mary,

    Thanks for your touching post. You and your husband are a very “high source” of meditation and prayer (I do apologize for my english).

    God bless you

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