“Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod... ” – Mt. 2:13-15, 19-23

Family life is hard.  Yes, the love and the sacrifice in a marriage that mirrors Christ's self-giving love to the world is beautiful.  But that beauty is sometimes hard to see in the midst of the endless cycles of laundry-folding and dish-washing.  Add the challenges of sleepless nights after the birth of a new baby, sadness over lost loved ones, anxiety over career changes, and it becomes difficult to see the mission that drives this vocation. 

If only it were as simple as it seems for Joseph. God offers his directives in dreams, and Joseph wakes from his nap, refreshed and ready to follow. I like to think that if God's directives to me were that clear, I, like Joseph, would follow without hesitation.  If I'm honest with myself, the reality is that I'm not really listening for God's directives in the first place.  Maybe if I took my cues from Joseph, who doesn't speak one word in Scripture, I'd be able to hear God's directives as clearly as he does.  

If I stop to slow down and pay attention, I do hear God's call, right in the middle of the clatter of dishes going back into the cupboards (when my husband puts them away, because, yet again, I was too tired).  The mission to love in this vocation is a series of simple choices, and hearing God's call is as easy as taking a moment to breathe in awareness of the purpose in my actions. Each small choice to care for our home and my family is the choice of love.  Each time I choose to set aside my own weariness to play with my baby or encourage my husband, in a small way, I mimic Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross.  And when I take the time to offer myself as gift to my loved ones, I enjoy the gift of love, of life fully lived. Resurrection dawns in my heart, and the beauty of this vocation outshines its difficulties. 

How do I make time to hear God's call? How do I fulfill my vocation to love and sacrifice within my own family? Where am I hesitant or unwilling to give?       

Samantha Stephenson