How many of you can relate to the feeling that with good intentions you go to sleep promising to take on tomorrow, vowing to conquer the world and gain heaven, and then the baby wakes you in the middle or the night (or maybe, it’s your spouse who is the culprit)? Whatever the reason, if you’re are at all like me, my exhausted 3-AM brain just can’t seem to rouse the enthusiasm I need to sustain my resolution. Instead, I feel justified in pushing snooze, stuffing my head under the pillow in irritation, stiffly rejecting morning snuggles from sweet, well-rested kiddos, and my day is off to a “snappy” beginning. Oh, but wait, the thought that follows is, “I have so much to do, so I better jump up and get to it.” Who has time to be still when there is so much to do?
How about midday gruffness? Can you relate to feeling short-tempered when the perfect moment has finally come around for you to complete a business task or personal goal and just then, the baby wakes up from a nap or the homeschoolers need your attention again or you look at your watch and realize the kids need shuttled hither and yon? The feelings of frustration fumigate the atmosphere and we are tempted to begin the lecture of lectures about how all we ask for is a small window of peace, just a few minutes to stay on task and be focused. And for goodness sake, can’t we just be left alone for a minute to get something done!
Or perhaps you can sympathize with the bedtime meltdown? I’m not referring to the kids’ whiny, exhausted, punchiness. I’m talking about the “mama meltdown,” when the kids are nicely tucked in bed and then they have one more question, need to get out of bed for the bathroom (again), holler down that they need water, decide that now’s the time they want to talk to you about deep profound topics, etc. Can you relate to clenching your teeth and fists and feeling just a little bit fed up because, after all, this is finally your time to do what you want to do?
It’s in our nature as mothers to serve and care for our families. Most moms are expert “doers.” This is why many moms make the best event coordinators, volunteers, and momtrepreneurs. We’re good at getting the jobs done, even if it means we do it with a martyr complex in tow. But sometimes we get stuck in the land of doing. The ultimate question is: Do we maintain peace of soul and mind and keep our spiritual sanity while we do, do, do? After all, this spiritual realm is one area that we can’t bring about the result by sheer willpower. We have to “let the Lord lead the dance.” “Let God be God in our life.” “Let go and let God.” “Do your best, let God do the rest or we will be stressed.” Right?
It sounds simple enough. Lest we forget, our principle job as moms is to be adorers — completely surrendered creatures of trust and totally dependent on grace. Our Blessed Mother is the example par excellence. Never once did she lose the eternal perspective. Never once did she finish a day with guilt wishing she had said “no” to some external demand and made time to pray. Never once did she think she was bringing about her salvation by her own activities; rather, she remembered always to rejoice in God her savior and her soul magnified the Lord (cf. Lk 1: 46).
As Fr. Mark Goring often points out, there is a world of difference between being productive and being fruitful. Fruitfulness is what we desire – “love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). Fruitfulness comes from giving God permission to sow his life in us. Mark 4:3 begins with Jesus’ first parable – the parable of the sower: “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” Christ is the sower, we are to simply be the soil and the job of growing us into a harvest of abundant goodness is his. We need only be concerned about getting the soil ready for him.
This is the paradigm shift. It’s not anything that I do for my family, myself or even for God that accomplishes peace of soul and spiritual sanity, it is what I allow God to do for me and in me. We must simply allow him access to the soil of our soul.
Keeping all the above in mind, I propose a simple practice that is repeated seven times each day. I began this effort at the prompting of my spiritual father who reminded me of the Angel at Fatima who taught the children to adore as the gateway to having our prayers heard by Jesus and Mary. It is a practice that helps set the stage for a wholesome day, that alleviates anxiety amid the day’s pressures and helps us to end the day well, so that we no longer look back with regret or look forward with unrealistic expectations. This simple practice is 30 seconds of undivided adoration of the Blessed Trinity at seven determined moments throughout your day. For me, it looks like setting my phone reminders to prompt me to make an act of adoration upon waking, before breakfast, before engaging in school/work, at noon, 3pm (the hour of mercy), dinner time and before climbing into bed. I prostrate myself (when possible I physically get to my knees as the angel taught, and spiritually, if I’m unable to kneel at that moment), close my eyes (and even cover my ears if the environment is chaotic), and simply utter in the silence of my soul:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you. You are God and I am not. Work your will in my life. I love you and trust in you.”
The prayer of the angel, too, often makes its way into my prayer, “I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” This small window of silence is often just long enough for me, to get over myself, sense his divine presence and hear a word from him to help me move forward with clarity and peace. The duties we have before us will not likely go away and we very well may have to maintain our “doer” mode, but let’s do so with our seven acts of adoration at our side to ensure that we don’t forget who’s really doing the work of saving us.
Lent is a perfect time to begin adding in these seven acts of adoration, but this is a practice you won’t want to stop at the end of our 40-day desert.
Can you share how you incorporate small acts of adoration into your life to keep you sane and prayerful?
Copyright 2017 Chantal Howard