When my kids were little and I was balancing a newborn, toddler, and preschooler, people would comment to me how easy parenting was at these young ages. Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, I would inwardly completely disagree and look forward to the days when my children were more independent.
Now, though, I see the truth in those comments. Instead of worrying about whether everyone had been fed, bathed, and interacted with, I worry whether my older children are embracing their faith, being good friends to their peers, and making good choices that will affect their future. I noticed that as a parent, I, too, was protected and carried. Being so exhausted all of the time, I prayed constantly, sought out the Sacraments, celebrated little joys and didn’t pay much attention to distractions like social media and shopping, for which I had neither time nor money to address. Sleep deprivation and social loneliness were my spiritual benefactors: they pushed me straight into the arms of our Mother, who carried me to Our Father.
Now, I struggle with making time for prayer. I get a decent night’s sleep, but I am restless in my spiritual life. I am so distracted in my prayer life, or avoid it all together, and am tempted to rely on myself instead of our Lord. I become easily discouraged by my sinfulness, especially in the areas of mothering, and am frustrated that I am not making “progress” in my spiritual life as noticed by still confessing the same sins over and over. I am lukewarm and recently felt the need for something to polarize me: to make me choose between hot or cold. To drive me into the loving arms and a continuous conversation with our Savior.
In the midst of birthday party preparations for my young daughter, I received a phone call from my mother. Thinking she was calling to wish her granddaughter a Happy Birthday, I was quick to pass off the phone. My mother cried out that she had called to talk to me, and went on to share the news of my father’s chest pains and imminent cardiac procedure. Whoa. Here it is, I thought. Here’s God calling out to me for deeper union. Although concerned, I didn’t feel fear, which is my usual response. I asked her to keep me updated, and went about the birthday celebration a bit detached, and yet still in the moment. No longer was I worried about a perfectly clean house before our guests arrived, or whether we had any party games to keep our guests entertained. I interacted with everyone, but felt connected in prayer with our Lord.
A few hours later, my mother called again, to tell me that it looked like God didn’t have plans for my father to come home. What????! She sounded so calm, and so grateful that I was immediately confused. My heart sank, thinking he didn’t make it through the procedure, but then she explained that “home” actually meant “Home”, meaning eternal life. God did preserve his life here on earth. And so I, too, felt immense gratitude, to be able to enjoy my father’s presence here for a while longer. But I was struck with the realization that I was not ready to handle funeral arrangements and grief, for change and loss. I am not strong enough nor faith-filled enough to handle a life-changing, polarizing event.
So where do I go from here?
Admit That You Are Incapable.
When standing in the truth, you ought to admit that you reduce the time devoted to prayer because you do not know how to pray, and furthermore, at times you do not even want to pray. Usually, it is difficult for you to dedicate even a fragment of your time to God.
In spite of what you have discovered, try to talk
sincerely with Jesus:
Lord, You see that I do not know how to pray.
You know, Lord, that I do not have the attitude of the tax
contrite and trusting in Your Mercy.
I realize that every moment my thoughts are far from You.
Nevertheless, I believe that You will not reject me.
I believe that in Your presence
my seemingly useless efforts have value.
(S. C. Biela, In the Arms of Mary, 2nd. Ed, rev. [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 18-19).
For now, I am recognizing my need for prayer and yet my unwillingness to cooperate. I am asking our Blessed Mother to teach me how to pray. To begin simply as suggested above. To not doubt God’s working within my soul in new ways and new seasons. To await His miracles as I grow in acknowledging the depth of my misery and allowing Him to love through me and in me. I suppose that’s “progress” after all.