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His Plan, Our Plan

I have always struggled with this idea of God asking Abraham to kill Isaac. Yes, I know how the story ends, how the messenger appears just in time to stop the slaughter, but the thought of our loving Creator asking for the death of a child, or anyone for that matter, does not sit well with me.

But what if we read this story understanding Isaac, not simply as Abraham’s son, but his idol. In a time period where children literally equaled one’s value in society, there’s no wonder why Abraham desperately wanted a child. A person’s whole identity was tied to their lineage. In a society with those pressures, it would be easy to idolize a child.

As a single woman deeply called to the vocation of wife and mother, I can relate to Abraham. True, today the idea of identity and worth isn’t tied as tightly as back then, but it’s not exactly separate either—especially in Catholic circles.

Every time I turn on social media someone is engaged or pregnant.

Most parish ministries for women I have encountered are geared specifically to mothers.

And my grandmother persistently questions whether or not I ever plan on getting married.

With all of this noise combined with my own struggles of self worth, it is easy to fall into the lie of my identity relying solely on this vocation I crave. And it is just as easy to allow my longing to become idolatrous.

Marriage and children are good and of God, but they are not God.

And so I wonder if that is what God was asking Abraham to sacrifice—not Isaac, but the idol he had allowed his son to become. And as I think about all those times I am angry or distraught with how my life looks right now, I pray for the strength of Abraham to sacrifice my desires and my control simply to follow God.

Pray for clarity in God’s will for your life. Pray a Rosary slowly and meditate on all the ways Jesus followed God’s will in His life, especially the hard times.

Sarah Stanley is a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Ignatian and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She recently earned her Master of Divinity and now serves as the Director of Christian Service at a high school in New England. When she’s not working, she enjoys contagious laughter, travel, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. You can find out more about her here.

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Sonia
    February 25, 2018 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for your powerful insights.

    • Reply
      Emily
      February 26, 2018 at 6:35 am

      Hey there, Sarah,
      I just read Your article on Blessed is she.
      I am 33 years old and still single.
      I hope my encouragement does come off as authentic – 🙂
      I feel Your hope, anxiety and doubts so much…
      I asked God that my husband would be the first and last man (sexually speaking) in my life at the age of 17, which He honoured – even at times I didn’t want Him to.
      My parents began their way of getting divorced when I was 13 (my Mom first considered filing the papers when I was only 7…). I was born into a disfunctional marriage. Although I would have been my Daddy’s girl, I couldn’t be it because His Dad wasn’t a good one either…
      For years without end I always seemed to fall in love with the wrong guys. I was ridiculed, made fun of, questioned, tempted, abandoned and hated for the way I felt about the comcept of marriage and loyalty in such terms.
      It took up quite a while but my relationship with my Dad got healed (I was about 30 at the time). My journey with men gained momentum from that time and the battle became even more real and more hard.
      These past two years I suffered so much, only God can tell.
      All that being said I’d only like to encourage You.
      Sadly I see that most women only get the hang of what it means to be a woman in their thirties… I’m no exception to that rule – unfortunately.
      I won’t tell You bullshit like appreciate Your single years because they won’t be coming back soon, because that’s no big help.
      What I’d like to tell You is to hold Your head up high! Be proud of Your standards, of the fact that You will not settle. Just make it known to men that You own Your gifts, sense of uniquness, self-love and self-worth. That You won’t settle for anyone (less than the one God has for You) and that You feel perfectly fine being alone because You have a great, fulfilling and rewarding life.
      If that’s not the case, You know where Your assignment lies 🙂
      Believe me: This attitude will drive the right kind of men WILD – I didn’t believe it myself but it is really so (and works all the time). They will feel very much a man in Your presence. Someone they have to work their butts off for, someone who couldn’t be won over by just any man. Get rid of all the clowns surrounding You and make room for the king. 🙂
      And while You’re at it (creating a wonderfully fulfilling life that is) draw very close to God because He wants to lead You into the relationship He has for You. But that will not happen if You don’t become familiar with His voice and the way He directs You.
      Before You know it You’ll be 33, too on the verge or int he middle of something great and ordained by God. 
      I am one hundred percent sure that if God plants a dream into someone’s heart He is ever committed to make it come true. Don’t let doubts eat away Your life and single years!
      Until God connects the two of You, live life to the fullest and enjoy every second of it!
      <3

      • Reply
        Sarah
        February 27, 2018 at 8:56 pm

        Emily,
        Thank you so much for your kind words and vulnerability. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and love!
        Peace, Sarah

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 8:54 pm

      So glad they spoke to you, friend.
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    February 25, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    I really love your post on today’s Gospel reading. Is there anyway that you can be contacted? Possibly via email? I am currently studying social justice and noticed that you are passionate about your faith and social justice as well! I would love to ask you some questions if you do not mind! Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts in this beautiful post.

    Peace and love,
    Kathryn

  • Reply
    Cathy
    February 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Beautiful reflection. I pray if you are called to the vocation of the married life, you will be richly blessed with a loving husband and children. I have never thought of Isaac in this way, but it gives me something to reflect on. We all have idols and you are right, they can be our children, grandchikdren or spouses!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      Thank you so much for your prayers, Cathy. Know that you are in mine too.
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Grace Herbertz
    February 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I cannot believe you wrote this because it so very much pertains to what I am dealing with right now. Thank you, you have given me a chance for calm.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      I hope the calm continues to come for you, Grace. Sending love and prayer.
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Sophie Hale
    February 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you for so beautifully presenting what I’ve so needed to hear! It’s brought much-needed clarity and hope. God bless you!
    – Sophie, NZ

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      SO happy to hear that, Sophie. Praying for you 🙂
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Katie
    February 25, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you for this post! As someone who is struggling with infertility, it is easy to idolize being a mother (or trying to be one!). I will continue to think of this post when I can tell it is keeping me away from God. God bless you!

    • Reply
      feelinglost
      February 26, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      <3

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 9:03 pm

      I’m so thankful that the post was helpful to you, Katie. Sending love and prayers <3
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Madeleine Wilmsen, KS
    February 25, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I’m so glad I took the time to read this post today! There are so many idols in my life right now that I need to sacrifice for my relationship with God.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      Prayers for you as you discern that, sister <3 So happy you enjoyed the reflection.
      Peace, Sarah

  • Reply
    Prov31wannabe
    February 26, 2018 at 5:44 am

    God Bless you as you wait for God to fulfill the longing vocation for motherhood in your heart. He will either fill it or change the vocation. The question is his timing, which is SO HARD! I remember it well, myself. I thought I would DIE. Looking back, I can see God at every turning, but dang was it sure hard in the moment. Hang in there, sistah! Don’t give up! Thank you also to the previous commenters, I can relate to them, too! . . . Spouse or children/grands as idols, a chance for calm . . .

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 27, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks for the beautifully kind words, friend <3
      Peace, Sarah

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