A guest staying with us for a few days mentioned that she had heard a nun (Roman Catholic, I believe) say that the asceticism of monasticism and parenthood are really quite similar. She said that as a monastic, whenever the bell rings, she immediately has to stop what she is doing and obey the bell. For parents, that bell is their children.
Similarly, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh in the introduction to his Essential Writtings is reported to have said that his years of service as a military doctor during the Second World War was “excellent training for the monastic life, teaching him to accept the will of others and to put their needs before his own in the most practical way.”
None of us like very much being told what to do–told by other people or told by our circumstances. However, the germ of the ancestral sin, the deep root of our own sin, is our unwillingness to relinquish our will; to trust the judgement of others above our own; to believe that even in the midst of awkward, uncomfortable or even painful circumstance, the Love of God is present and the Power of God is at work.
I think this is the reason why the Church continually brings to our mind the martyrs. When the Church talks about martyrs in Her hymns, the martyrs are often spoken of as being revealed rather than made. That is, their manner of death does not make them martyrs, it reveals that they were martyrs already.
Martyrs are those who have learned to believe, to trust and to know that the Love of God and the Power of God are at work in difficult circumstances. They have learned to discern the voice of God in the voice of others, even others who “know not what they do.” They have learned to pray with their whole mind and body, offering their frustrations, pains and sufferings of all sorts to God as a “living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God.”
Whether parent or monastic, salvation begins and ends with repentance, with the turning away from our own will and through submission to the will of the Other, who is God, yet who generally rings our bell by the hand, voice, or cry of another.