Monday, January 19, 2015

WAHM Lessons From Pope Francis' Visit to the Philippines (#PopeFrancisPH)

I thought that I would be able to accomplish a lot of work-related tasks during Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines because of the long holiday/weekend. I planned to make significant progress in moving forward in reaching my work goals. But my plan did not materialize... at all.
Two days after the Pope arrived in the Philippines, I was tempted to wallow in disappointment. Still, I thought that maybe I could squeeze in some work in between what I had been doing in the past two days. After the Pope's third day in the country, I've decided to abandon all plans of working over the long weekend. Not because I was giving in to frustration or because I'm giving up on my work goals this early in the year, but because I was happy that things did not turn out as I planned.
Let me share three lessons from Pope Francis that I think are applicable to WAHMs (work-at-home moms) like me.
1. TAKE TIME TO REST. - I know many moms who have workaholic tendencies. Ha! I'm one of them! Seriously, work-at-home moms have the tendency to overlook time for rest and recreation because we manage our households and care for our children on top of our work-at-home jobs or home-based businesses. Many WAHMs work after everyone in their household is in bed and is in dreamland. I honestly like working late into the night or early in the morning because that's when the house is quiet and I could think well. Unlike during daytime when I could hardly hear myself above the noise of my active little boys.
So when I heard Pope Francis exhort families to take time to rest in his message during his meeting with families at the MOA Arena, I felt that God was speaking to me through him. I felt that God was giving me permission to rest, especially now that I'm still on maternity leave (technically). I felt God telling me to go slow in going back to work mode and to prioritize my health and recovery.
Aside from reminding families of the importance of rest to our bodies, he also told families that rest is important for our souls. The Pope  said that God can speak to us even while we sleep. He even shared that he sometimes writes his concerns on a piece of paper and puts them under the statue of a sleeping St. Joseph. He said that since God spoke to St. Joseph through St. Joseph's dreams, he was asking for the saint's intercession so that God would speak to him as well  about his concerns while he's sleeping.
Photo source here.
When I heard Pope Francis say these words last Friday, I let go of the guilt I initially felt for sleeping in the afternoons and at night instead of working on items on my to-do list in the past days.
What could take me "40 years" to finish, God could help me finish in a split second if He wills it. So I will take my sweet time during my maternity leave to get as much rest and sleep as I possibly can hoping that like St. Joseph, God would speak to me in my sleep/dreams. And like Mary and Jesus, I hope and pray that I would rise to carry out the mission God has entrusted to me both at home and outside my home.
I will rest in the Lord following God's prompting. This will be my way of expressing my trust in Him that He will take care of all my needs.
2. PROTECT THE FAMILY. - This second lesson was not as  obvious to me as the first. But as I spent more time meditating on the Pope's messages in the past days, I realized that by sticking to my priorities, I am actually protecting my family.
What did I do in the past days? I watched the coverage of the Pope's visit with my family. I shared stories with my husband and kids about my experience during World Youth Day 1995. I meditated on the messages of the Pope. I prepared and did homeschool activities with my kids to teach them more about our Catholic faith, the papacy and Pope Francis. I read inspiring materials and slept in between nursing sessions with my newborn baby, homeschool activities with my two older children and managing our household.
I initially felt disappointed when I found it hard to stay awake and do some work-related tasks. Thankfully, God granted me wisdom through Pope Francis' message that what I was doing in the past days was reason for rejoicing. I was living out my priorities! And by doing this, I am protecting my family!
My family in front of the Nativity scene of our church last Christmas.
One of our recent family pictures.
God, family and self are among my top three priorities in life. I was simply sticking to my priorities by spending my time on the activities I mentioned above.  
I remember one interview with Pope Francis wherein he asked parents: "Do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children?" He further said, "The free gift of a parent's time is so important."
It is so easy for a work-at-home mom to forget that she works from home because she wants to spend more time with her family. Since we work at home, the boundaries are sometimes blurred and unless we become deliberate in moving forward in WAHMing or doing our home-based businesses, we can make the mistake of letting our work load take over our family activities, which actually defeats the purpose of us working at home.
Nourishing one's self is also important. I cannot give what I do not have. I cannot take care of my family if I am not well. I need time for solitude so that I can commune with my God and be filled with the necessary graces that only He can give. If I do not make time for my relationship with God, I would be tempted to demand from my family members what only God can give me. Expecting from my family what can only come from God would put unnecessary strain on my relationships with them.
Read the full text of Pope Francis' message to families here.
3. LET GOD SURPRISE YOU. - God reminded me through Pope Francis yesterday through his encounter with the youth at UST that He is a God of surprises and that He surprises us because He loves us.
I was reminded of the many times God surprised me in my WAHM adventure. It was a delight to receive and enjoy God's unexpected favors!
I admit that I like to make sure that I have all things covered, including in my projects as a work-at-home mom, consultant and business-mom. My natural tendency is to be uneasy (to say the least) when faced with uncertainties. I like to be in control. I like making plans and making sure I execute my plans as perfectly as I can. But God likes to surprise me. Pope Francis said, "They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction." It's true! Not knowing exactly what would happen next makes us insecure and afraid. But a lot of times, based on my personal experiences, those times when God surprised me are also times of great favors and miracles. It was during those times when I felt most loved by Him.

Who would have imagined a Pope celebrating Mass in a yellow raincoat?
Who would expect this kind of smile from a Pope
who has just celebrated Mass in the rain?
But God is a God of surprises indeed as shown by this photo of our #DearPopeFrancis. Photo source here.
I believe that this is a very timely reminder at the start of the year when I (many of us) usually make plans for our personal lives and our careers/businesses. It's good to make plans but we should also make space for God's surprises and miracles in our lives. In truth, I do hope that God would surprise me again big time this year! I hope and pray that He would surprise me by blessing me beyond what I deserve and beyond what I expect my efforts and hard work would yield.
Read the full text of Pope Francis' message to the youth in UST here.
These are just some of the lessons I learned/relearned while watching Pope Francis' activities during his papal visit here in the Philippines and meditating on his message to us Filipinos.
Did you also follow the Pope either physically or through the tv, internet and other forms of media? What lessons did you learn from his visit? Feel free to share in the comments.

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