June 27, 2008

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Remember, it’s not about us, it’s all about God

Debra Tomaselli(Editor’s note: This week, we begin a new column, “Emmaus Walk,” by Debra Tomaselli of Maitland, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

When our church’s Mothers’ Group asked me to be a guest speaker, I jumped at the chance. I love to share my faith, and I love being a mother. I was thrilled for the opportunity. But at the same time, I was scared.

I am a perfectionist. For weeks, I scrawled notes while waiting in carpool lines, cooking dinner or watching television. Days before the talk, however, I still had not perfected my presentation.

Finally, the night before my speech, I made a simple plan. My goal was to illustrate the importance of faith in a young child’s life.

I took a picture of the Blessed Mother from our teenage daughter’s bedroom. We had given it to her for her 8th birthday along with an Easy Bake oven, a pink ‘Skip-It’ and a plush teddy bear. Her thank you note, handwritten in chunky second-grade print, read: “Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for my birthday presents. I liked the Mary picture best.” I made copies of it for handouts, hoping to illustrate how kids appreciate holiness.

I arrived early for the meeting. As we gathered, I prayed for these holy women of faith. With three nearly grown daughters, I understood the magnitude of their humble work. I felt honored to be in their presence. We sat in a circle and prayed. Then, sitting beside them, I leaned forward and spoke.

I recalled the joys of chasing shadows with my toddler in the late afternoon sun. I recounted the power of three Hail Mary’s and the peace they delivered as my brother lay dying 20 days after our youngest child was born. I remembered transforming a boring day into lifetime memories when my two preschoolers and I strolled to the grocery store and bought an éclair to share on the way home. I recalled the nagging inner voice that convinced me to become a Brownie leader when I didn’t really want to, and the incredible support provided at a time when I needed it most.

I forgot about the Mary picture. I never distributed the handouts. I barely glanced at my outline. I engaged with the moms. At the conclusion, everyone graciously thanked me.

Later, however, I struggled. What if I bored them? How could I have abandoned my plan? Why did I forget the handouts? I should have stood during the presentation. I chastised myself for not being more professional, informative or organized. Then another realization surfaced.

God doesn’t want our perfection, he wants our faithfulness.

With that, I found peace. I fulfilled the invitation to speak. My mission was complete.

You have a task, too. Don’t be afraid to offer what you have. Your gift is important. It may not be much; it may be flawed. God will take the five loaves and two fish and multiply it. You may be a stuttering Moses or an aged Sarah, but he will work wonders with a willing heart.

After all, it’s not all about us. It’s all about him. †

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