"The principle of self-sacrificing love was eternal. Redemption was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world was laid.
God, Who is outside time, saw from all eternity mankind falling, and being redeemed." Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
The great Mrs. Fulwiler wrote a very neat piece discussing her recent experience using a chapel veil at Mass. I've never worn a veil (who knows, maybe someday) but a sentence popped out at me from her reflections:
"It was at that moment that I realized that this exercise in head covering brought with it an important, and surprisingly difficult, opportunity for spiritual growth: to presume other people’s charity."
Sometimes we are SO ready to be offended and judged, aren't we? We go to the grocery store with our x number of kids and we are just waiting for the inevitable "are they all yours?" or the ever popular "you've got your hands full!" (The comments I get are usually directed at my all male crew. "Poor thing!" "Didn't get your girl, eh?" "You must be a saint!") And we answer either charitably or snarkily and walk away muttering to ourselves and planning the perfect online rant about how people are just so ruuude.
What if, rather than presuming that all these people are nefarious culture of death minions who want to tie us down and forcibly sterilize us, we instead decide to presume upon their charity? What if we assume they are merely surprised (dare I say even happy?) to see that many children? What if we silence the inner skeptic and act like maybe that person is just attempting to make conversation? What if they are simply making an observation because, like it or not dear mother of three, four, five, or more children, your hands ARE full! And the Scriptures say repeatedly that that is a very very good thing! (Maybe that person believes that, too!)
Perhaps we can make it a practice to presume that the person making the comment is a lovely person just trying to make conversation or admire your children or even getting ready to offer a hand. It may or may not be true but at the very least we will know that our hearts are pure. Perhaps instead of a snarky reply we can simply answer with a pure non-cynical response and even dare to engage in a friendly conversation. Perhaps we can make it a habit to mutter a prayer for that person rather than a rant. Perhaps our children will then learn that people are good and that not everyone is out to get us. Perhaps we can even soften a few hearts.
And when someone observes how full are our hands, perhaps we can smile sincerely and thank God that they are.