Finding Joy in Surrender

Fr. Walter Ciszek spent 23 years imprisoned in the Soviet Union. Here’s what he taught me about motherhood.



Lent is my favorite time of year in the liturgical calendar. It's a time when the Church, in its profound wisdom, provides us with a dedicated period for personal renewal and spiritual growth. 

That said, some Lents feel more fruitful than others. There have definitely been years where I've felt stagnant, making little spiritual progress. But this year, I've made a major shift in my heart, especially in my outlook toward the daily tasks of motherhood.  

First, let me share some of my personal struggles in motherhood. I believe it’s a true gift that I get stay at home with my kids. But I’m not always super joyful about it... Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was. But most days I find it incredibly monotonous. Cleaning up the same messes over and over again feels self-defeating. Breaking up sibling fights and trying maintain my patience and peace is mentally exhausting. The noise and chaos grates on my nerves. I know it's no different than what every other mom faces, but I believe we all carry a heavy load. And perhaps it comes more naturally to some women, but personally, it can be challenging for me to maintain a cheerful disposition.

Now back to Lent. 

This year, I signed up for Hallow's Lenten Challenge to try to focus my morning prayer time. The daily reflections walked me through the inspiring story of Fr. Walter Ciszek, a missionary priest who endured over 20 years of imprisonment and labor camps in the Soviet Union (based on his book, He Leadeth Me). His journey is remarkable, particularly his profound surrender to God's will amidst unimaginable adversity.

While enduring an unjust arrest, solitary confinement, relentless interrogations and grueling work with little food in a labor camp, he discovered the joy of surrendering to God's will. He said:

“…things suddenly seemed so very simple. There was but a single vision, God, who was all in all; there was but one will that directed all things, God's will. I had only to see it, to discern it in every circumstance in which I found myself, and let myself be ruled by it…To discern this in every situation and circumstance, to see His will in all things, was to accept each circumstance and situation and let oneself be borne along in perfect confidence and trust.”

Fr. Ciszek's words illuminated a new perspective for me: to see each moment as an opportunity to align my will with God's. While I realize my daily struggles as a mom pale in comparison to Fr. Cizek's ordeal, they are nonetheless where God is calling me to grow in virtue in this season of my life.

Rather than viewing my daily sacrifices as burdens to endure or "muscle through," I am beginning to see them as opportunities for spiritual growth.

For instance, when my one-year-old starts emptying the cupboard after I've just put everything away, I'm reminded to cultivate gentleness. When my six-year-old turns his pencil into a weapon instead of doing his work while homeschooling, I'm challenged to practice patience. Even the seemingly mundane tasks, like cleaning the kitchen over and over and over again, become opportunities to grow in love and charity when approached with a spirit of perseverance.

Understanding that these moments are part of God's will for my life has transformed my perspective. Instead of resenting the daily tasks of motherhood, I am starting to embrace them as gifts from a loving Father. Through the hidden life of motherhood, He is teaching me in the school of love, giving me opportunities to grow closer to Him, to embody His virtues, and to find joy in even the smallest acts of service.

So as I continue to journey through the ups and downs of motherhood, I am choosing to see each moment as an invitation to align my will with God's and to find joy in His plan for my life. And in doing so, I've discovered a newfound sense of purpose, fulfillment, and yes, even joy, in the midst of the everyday chaos.