By Guest Blogger Lisa Schmidt
Painting Women Beautiful
Remember the movie Pleasantville released in the late 1990’s? Its plot takes a modern day teenage brother-sister duo and transports them back into a 1950s black-and-white sitcom where everything always goes right. The teens introduce modern-day social troubles to the citizens of Pleasantville, and as these changes are introduced, colors begin to appear.
The mother of the two teens left the biggest impression on me. She was June Cleaver-esque — modest, dutiful, and feminine, all with a sense of quiet wisdom. And she was perfectly content to be so until she witnessed others becoming “colorful.” Wanting to have what she saw in others, the mother began to dabble in sinful behaviors. Little by little, she became colorful . . . at least on the outside. The movie depicted her as a caged bird who simply needed an opportunity to be set free so her “true colors” could shine.
When the movie came out, I was an undergrad in my early twenties. The film served something as a rallying cry for the secular feminists and women’s studies courses on campus. I didn’t buy into the movie’s obvious agenda, and I argued women like “June Cleaver” were still relevant and necessary role models in our contemporary time.
Fifteen years later, I am now married and at-home full-time with our children. While I still feel June Cleaver has an important place in contemporary society, I do identify with the restless mother. I’ve had more days than I care to admit where I feel pretty damn gray or colorless. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with feelings of restlessness, loneliness, and irrelevance.
And I don’t think I’m alone here. Based on the conversations I’m having with female friends — single, married with or without children, widowed, and empty-nested — I’m not the only one battling “the grays.” I shouldn’t be surprised. Remember, the Evil One struck Eve, the heart of the man, first. And He’s still striking, leaving many women exhausted and doubting our self-worth.
With impeccable timing, our Holy Father has provided the antidote to this doubt by proclaiming the Year of Faith. In his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (Door of Faith), Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that God has opened the door of faith for all of us, no matter the season of life in which we are journeying.
“By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages … have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercises of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.”
Our vocations are gateways to entering through that door of faith. In this particular space and time, God has invited me, first and foremost, to bear witness inside my home, to my husband and my children. They are my vocation. When I respond in kind, when I say yes to that call, I am loving and serving Christ and His Church. And as my heart remains open to that call, it will be shaped by transforming grace. Grace I desperately need in order to get through the gray times.
A wise friend once said, “When you say yes to His work, He will paint you beautiful.” Now that’s the kind of color I’m praying to receive during this Year of Faith. The Door of Faith is open. Let’s walk through it together. I hear the colors over there are worth dying for!
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I will definately read Porta Fidei as soon as possible. I agree there is a need for women like June Clever. I think though that this is not practical, economically feasible, of interest or respected by all women, while others would find this just right. We will continue to choose as our life’s priorities and resourse access allow I am sure I will find something useful, helpful and necessary from the Porta Fidei and I will continue, as has been my long-term practice of making my own INFORMED DECISIONS for my life and my behaviors as will all women in the Northern Hemisphere and Europe, can’t speak for others though I look forward to reading the work and incorporating it into my life-plan. Pax et Bonum.
Response by Lisa to Gloria:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Please do print out and read and reread Porta Fidei. As I have read and stood under the authority of our Holy Father’s brilliant words, my heart has truly been opened and shaped in a way I didn’t even realize it needed to be. Thank God Dr. Neal asked me to write the post, otherwise I’m not sure I would have gotten to this place.
I walked away from a fulfilling career to be an at-home when my daughter turned 2, so I’ve been both the working-outside-the-home mom and now the at-home mom. Please know I respect the decisions all women must make in regard to the right balance for their life.
I quoted Dr. Neal at the end of the post: “When you say yes to His work, He will paint you beautiful.” Whatever vocation or avocation God is calling a woman to, I pray she has the confidence to say YES with conviction.
Godspeed to you! Keep in touch. I look forward to hearing your insights, too, as we walk through the Door of Faith together!
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