When You’re Doing All The Right Things

It’s amazing how things come full circle. As a kid I used to dread Sunday Mass. I had no idea what was going on, it was long, and it was boring. I was only in it for the donuts at the end (no surprise there if you know me).

As I grew in age and in faith, that all changed. Around my 8th grade year, I just fell in love with the Mass. It happened sweetly, simply, and quickly.

Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough.

This love for the Mass only grew through the years. Up until a couple of years ago, Sunday Mass was such an amazing experience–a chance for me to recharge and draw close to the Lord. But now…oh, now, how I dread it. Sunday Mass with three kids under three is a BATTLE and so incredibly frustrating. I can’t remember what the readings were, I barely catch the homily, and I just can’t focus. I no longer walk away feeling recharged, but empty and broken instead.

Last Sunday, my husband and I were knee deep in toddler meltdowns and diaper explosions. It was all I could do to keep from just bursting into tears. Then I found myself talking to God in my heart saying “Why?! Why are you doing this to me? I am a good Catholic and I have loved you so much throughout my whole life. I have done everything correctly. I have done everything you asked. Why are you putting me through this? Why do I feel like you are pushing me away? We say the rosary almost every day and do night prayers with the boys. So why do I feel punished instead of rewarded?! WHY?!”

The words in my heart shocked me. There have only been a few times that I have ever angrily talked with God. But I didn’t follow up with a “Forgive me Lord!” Nope. I just left it there, floating between my heart and the Sacred Heart. I hadn’t even realized that these feelings were within me. It was all true though. I couldn’t understand why Sunday Mass had become such a painful time. It wasn’t supposed to be that way; I’m doing all the right things!

After a few days to think about what happened, I realized it needed to be put on paper. I journaled it all and thought about the implications of this realization. I came to the conclusions that even when you’re doing “all the right things” and even when you’re a “textbook Catholic,” there will still be struggles.

I know that I already knew this in my heart, but this is the first time I was actually experiencing it. I also realized that this isn’t a “motherhood issue.” It’s a human issue. There are many times in life when we think that we are doing everything as we should and then God puts a roadblock in our way and we simply can’t understand: Why? Why are we punished even though we’ve followed the instructions to a T?

I can’t pretend to have the answer. I do know that I’m not supposed to stop the family rosary or night prayers just because I can’t get my kids to behave in Mass. We aren’t supposed to stop living for the Lord just because things aren’t going our way. At that point, it’s time to analyze why we are living the life we are. Are we truly living for God or are we just living to reap the “benefits” that we think come with living that life? That’s some tough inner reflection.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare me to look that deeply. I know that we are called to keep going, to push through the pain.

We have to trust that the suffering we are going through is only making us stronger. Easier said then done. Believe me, I know.

choosing life (3)

Telling you that the suffering is worth it in the end isn’t going to make anything any easier. If anything, I just hope that this can be a note of encouragement. As an English Lit. major I liken life to an epic poem and epics always come full circle. There will be a time when I walk out of Mass and not feel like I’ve just run a marathon. It will come back around. It will.

In the meantime, I have to just keep the faith and remember that I’m living for God out of love, not for the reward of well-behaved children or a put-together life.

[Tweet “We have to trust that the suffering we are going through is only making us stronger.”]

Susana Starbuck is a wife, mother, coffee drinker and Instagram lover. She blogs over at Barista Mommy and runs her dream business Little Flowers Studios.

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  • Reply
    September 2, 2015 at 6:27 am

    I don’t mean this in a snotty way. Having 4 boys…I get it. But I believe God gifted you with those amazing, renewing, refreshing years to sustain you through the years of little ones. I also challenge the idea of becoming stronger through this, in so much as it points to our own strength. I return to 2Corinthians 12:7-10 frequently. I really do understand, as I am challenged at every Mass. But it really is an opportunity to allow Him to work through us.

  • Reply
    September 2, 2015 at 9:21 am

    As I was reading there were moments I felt you were writing the thoughts in my head verbatim. The biggest exception was the part of the kids, where my struggle is the complete opposite. I go to mass and see the pews with families and long to have children of my own. I often struggle with the same sentiments of having lived my life to follow God, and doing what He has asked of me, and yet I feel that I’m being “punished” despite all my efforts to live my life for God. I know that this is not true, but at this time in my life I am struggling with pushing true the pain. Thank you for your encouraging words, and if you think of it, please offer up a prayer for me.

  • Reply
    Lillie Mysel
    September 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I’m an English major too..and I definitely struggle (and recently) about why God has put all of these obstacles in my life when I’m the ‘textbook Catholic’. I even compare myself to others and what not..it’s pretty awful when I get into a tangent with God when I’m angry at Him..thanks so much for this and for me to know that I am not alone Susana.


  • Reply
    January 8, 2018 at 6:13 am

    At the time you wrote this two years ago, I was two weeks into the slog that is breast cancer, asking the same questions, Why Me? I did all the right things, ate the right foods, used the right lotions, never took The Pill or did anything risky that would jeopardize my health. I clicked on this article for yet another take on how suffering is suposed to be redemptive. Thank you.. i liked everything you said, as well as the commenters, including the one whose injustice is No Children. Talk about life being unfair! Thank you, everyone, for sharing. Let us all pray for one another in the Circle of Life. Rambunctious kids in church is a season of life just like anything else! I bet things are different now! (Better? Worse, lol?) We have two sons, now 24 and 23. I remember those days. They pass.

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