Having It All Doesn’t Mean Having It All Together



“When you have it all put together, there’s no room for the Holy Spirit.”

As I watched my husband wrestle our 16-month-old out of our pew and to the cry room, those words brought me sharply back to the present moment.

Our priest continued his homily, but my mind couldn’t help but mull over those words. I’d been working so hard lately to declutter and organize our household, help my kids finish up their school year well, and develop the perfect daily schedule that would allow time for necessary chores and a nap as I entered my second trimester of pregnancy. But in the process of desperately trying to “put it all together,” was I inadvertently shoving God out?

My ideal daily schedule did allow time for prayer, but was I allowing God to transform the rest of my day into a spiritual exercise?

I was recently talking to a priest about my struggle to consistently fit prayer into my day. With six children and one on the way, there are many times that I try to pray, but I’m immediately interrupted. The priest assured me that I simply sounded like a normal mother, and he suggested that I adopt St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s habit of doing every small act with love and for God. In other words, turn all of my motherly duties into a prayer in action.

I loved this idea, but I also realized it meant I probably shouldn’t sigh as I remind my children (again!) to hang up their wet towels. And I probably shouldn’t yell when my five-year-old dumps a whole pitcher of Kool-Aid all over the floor right after I told her to wait for my help. And I should learn to accept that the arrival of warmer weather means there will be mud — outside and inside.

We all have our breaking points, and we do need schedules, cleaning routines, and children trained in good habits to help life run smoothly.

But we also have to remember where we can most readily find the Holy Spirit. He’s in the interruptions to our prayer time, the wet towels on the carpet, the sticky mess on the floor, and the muddy handprints on the walls. He’s in the deep breath we take as we seek patience. He’s in the gentle tone of voice as we instruct our children. And He’s in the apology when we lose our cool.

So, while I often think I’d love to have days filled with routine and consistency, I’m realizing that it’s only when everything falls apart that I fully recognize who’s keeping me together.

And it’s when I respond to those moments with love that I gain the most in my pursuit of heaven.

If I give everything over to God, I’ll start to love His ways better than my own. Filling out my planner becomes a prayerful exercise in trust. I can write down my ideas of how my days should go, but with the acceptance that God could change everything–for the better. His ways may seem chaotic, messy, and disordered in the moment, but as I look back on my life, I realize that those seemingly disordered moments somehow caused everything to fall into place perfectly.

And that’s the answer I’m looking for as I seek peace in my life. Not the perfect schedule, cleaning system, or discipline techniques–but a simple acceptance of His will for me, every minute of every day.

Copyright 2018 Charisse Tierney


About Author

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband Rob and six children. Charisse and Rob are Natural Family Planning and Theology of the Body for Teens teachers. Charisse holds degrees in music performance and is a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion. She also writes for Family Foundations magazine and blogs at Paving the Path to Purity. Find her on Facebook.


  1. Charisse,

    I really enjoyed your reflection. I am in a transition phase from working to maternity leave and my 5th will be born any day now. I have been intentionally planning ahead for my maternity leave/summer break to be about nurturing relationships in my family and establishing better routines before transitioning into another academic year in August, trying to maintain the good layers of what we establish in the summer within the back to school/work context. It will be good to keep your thoughts in mind as I approach this process, especially with the routines related side of it all.

    • Thank you Amanda! I have been planning our summer routines as well as I prepare to have all six of my kids home once school gets out. I love to plan everything out, but I am realizing that the truly beautiful moment come when I stop to snuggle with my 16-month-old, or listen intently to my 14-year-old when he decides he’s in the mood to talk! And, yes, sometimes this means some chores get left undone! God bless you and your family, especially during this time of transition.

  2. Hi ladies! Just had a baby 4 days ago. This could not have come at a better time as we all adjust and stretch and grow together as a family. This is motherhood, no? My friend likes to say that “mercy is messy.” And as you say here, God’s ways can seem chaotic. They can also seem messy and confusing. But God is holding us in the palm of His hand, inviting us each day to follow Him deeper into the mystery of His mercy. You hit the nail on the head – we can plan all we want, but in the end, we have to trust. God’s thoughts are higher than ours. His ways are better than ours. God bless you ladies and all of us transitioning into a new, messy, wonderful phase of life!

    • Hi Kaitlyn! Those first days and weeks after having a baby can seem so unpredictable and chaotic, can’t they? But there’s also nothing like just sitting and holding your newborn–and it can be totally worth leaving other things undone just to do that! God bless you and your new little one!

  3. This was so beautiful and true! And it wasn’t until I had a colicky baby, several miscarriages, did I understand the importance of letting go for God. It isn’t easy and I sure struggle at it each and every day, but I have learned to find comfort in accepting His desires when they come rather solely pursue my own. By giving into His Will, I have experienced the most stressful, but beautiful year of my life and it is amazing to look back at it knowing that I wasn’t fighting Him through it all.

    • Hello Danielle. I am so sorry for your losses and struggles. I, too, have lost a baby to miscarriage, and learning to surrender everything to God was a beautiful fruit of that painful experience. I, too, struggle with this surrender, though–but I guess those struggles are to be expected! The important thing is that we keep trying, right? God bless you as you work to grow in holiness!

  4. Charisse, I really loved reading this, deep into summer and feeling those same struggles! Thank you for sharing this and reminding me to “pray as I go’. I hope your summer has been filled with many Holy Spirit nudges. 🙂

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