In my last post I discussed feelings of shame. And here I am writing another post recounting another event in which I suddenly found myself experiencing shame. It seems I am possibly the most self concious, self obsessed person I know!
We have been going out quite a bit over the last few weeks since my husband became well again and one of these outings was to the famous chicken restaurant Nando’s. All 5 of us were there. Now you may be starting to wonder what the shame aspect is to this story:
Were my children finding new and inventive ways of wearing their lunch? Noooo.
Was it that after walking the entire length of the restaurant I realised that I had my skirt tucked into my knickers? Noooo.
Did we forget to bring our wallets and end up having to escape by passing the children to each other out of the bathroom window? No.
So what was it? It must have been absolutely horrific right? Wrong.
As our food came to the table and everyone started eating, the baby sat very still and put her hands together to pray and said “Weddy?!” It was a moment of mixed emotions:
My first responses went kinda like this:
- Oh my gosh i’m going to have to sing in Public.
- Just tell the kids that we don’t have to say grace today.
- OMGosh! You terrible mother! You terrible Catholic!
- Your 1 year old is giving a better witness than you are.
- I don’t want the kids to think I’m ashamed to pray in public.
- Will my husband join in?
- Will people stare at us?
- What if people think I’m a religious fanatical parent?
- Who cares what a bunch of strangers think!
- THIS is your JOB!
- Get a grip.
- I have serious pride/humility issues.
- I’m so ashamed of myself for feeling ashamed.
- God is watching you RIGHT NOW.
- What you gonna do?
The two older kids had already started making the sign of the cross – like it was the most normal natural thing in the world to do. I purposely didn’t make eye contact with my husband in case he told me “This is a bad idea”. I could sense he was probably going through the same set of ridiculous emotions as I was.
And guess what? We said Grace. It was fine! Some people looked at us. Most didn’t. The kids carried on as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
To be honest it kinda reminded me of the early days of wearing my mantilla. I found that absolutely terrifying. And people DID stare at me then. Older ladies did come up to me and abruptly question me as to why I was wearing something “so old fashioned”. But you know what – I got used to it, and so did they. And you know what else – it’s really not up to them to tell me how they think I should be worshipping God. Funny how doing something so simple as wearing a mantilla can bring up such emotions in people isn’t it?
Now the challenge is to let the general public see my relationship with God. This is something that on the one hand I want to shout about from the rooftops because I am having the most incredible love affair with the creator of the universe! But on the other hand it is the most personal intimate relationship that cuts through to the very depths of who I am, and to have someone criticise that, or to laugh at me for it would be utterly crushing. I’m such a baby!
And here’s the truth: In that restaurant some people may well be offended by seeing our family make the sign of the cross. Some people wont care. And for some people it might just be the thing that pricks their conscience. For some, seeing that tiny, second long prayer will be the thing that re-ignites their own faith. For some it will give hope in a seemingly hopeless world. And for others, it will be a first – just to see a family all together, praying. They may well have never seen that before in their whole lives.
Which leads me to the blindingly obvious conclusion that to pray in public really isn’t about me at all. When people are staring, they are staring at the sign of the cross – at Jesus, not at me. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Who am I to deprive them of the opportunity to do that?
We will be saying Grace in public from now on 🙂