A trait that I am sure I got from my dad, I love doing things in a methodical way, and over time I reflect on the rhythms and routines of my days. Having consistency (especially when coupled with space for silence) brings me comfort. I feel a greater sense of peace, even though I know my sense of peace should not be grounded in something like having things go calmly and smoothly.
St. Francis De Sales’ quote, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset,” has come to mind often since I saw it for the first time a few years ago. I knew it was something I wanted in my life but that I was far from feeling that consistent inner peace. While there is still much to learn, I can notice great growth in recent years and all the difference it makes.
Lately my life has felt a bit like a snow globe with everything shook up because of a tension I know well: trying to juggle my vocation as a wife and mom with my career and, most importantly, to keep Christ at the center. More specifically, the following are some of the factors in this phase. I just transitioned back to work after maternity leave and summer break. I am adjusting to each of my oldest three girls being in new levels of schooling (kindergarten, 6th grade/middle school, and 9th grade/high school). We are learning how to navigate having three kids five and under. I am back to the phase of more interruptions to my sleep and pumping at work. We are figuring out logistics like transportation. In general, my days feel more fragmented. Some guidance that had been highly beneficial is not available at this time. Right as I went back to work, my core practice of attending daily Mass was temporarily unavailable, with the exception of two days in a five-week period.
A part of learning to live St. Francis’ quote more fully means that even when I am in the shook-up phase, I trust that things will begin to settle, different pieces falling into place with everything eventually calm — until the next shakeup, that is. Some of the strategies that help me to be more peaceful in this phase of life and other times like it are:
Count my blessings: Last year a priest reminded me multiple times when I was in the middle of discerning faith, family, and career that I was so lucky. His pointing me back towards the good in my life, regardless of how things ended up with what I had been discerning, are helping me to remember to do the same as I encounter challenges along the way navigating the different roles and responsibilities I have in life. Each element that is shaking things up right now points toward a blessing.
I have five beautiful girls full of life, navigating different ages and stages. When I have to pause at work to pump, though inconvenient, it is a reminder of my youngest and all the moments with her in my arms. When I did not have access to daily Mass, I used it as an opportunity to long for Mass and to recognize with great gratitude that more often than not, I do have access. My career that can feel demanding and overwhelming also affords many opportunities for my family and surrounds me with great colleagues and students. Being grateful helps to put things in proper perspective.
Recognize the gap, but then surrender it: One of the biggest challenges that has come up again and again is a sense of hopelessness or discouragement that there is a gap between what I know is possible and what I can actually do based on limitations of time and energy, especially once I came to grips with the reality that it is impossible to close that gap. As an educator, that can look like having a strong sense of theory and quality lesson design, of all that would be ideal when dreaming about curriculum development, but then not being able to enact all layers. As a mom it means that sometimes I don’t have time to do things that feel critical or that I am not able to do them as consistently as I would like. Yet, based on different layers of my context, I have discerned that I am supposed to continue working even when there is no way I can “do it all” (and recognizing that even if I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, there would still be tensions with gaps). With that recognition, it means it is vital that I surrender the challenges of being a working mom and the frequent feelings of not being good enough either in my career or as a mom because it is all a part of God’s plan that I offer God the confusions along the way. My limitations help keep me humble and prompt me to lean into God.
Remember the core: Discerning how to best prioritize different factors related to faith, family, and career calls me to remember what is most worth fighting for so that then I can see what I should be letting go of. It helps to guide the difficult decisions. It helps me to devote time to my relationship with God; to make time for self-care; to sacrifice in order to nurture, love, and serve; and to be a good steward of my time. After recognizing I cannot do it all because of that gap, it helps me to decide what should go first and what I should protect.
Stay solution oriented: As I have been learning to grow in maintaining a sense of inner peace, I have heard my priest say many times, “For every problem there is a solution.” Keeping that in mind, along with the faith that God will provide what I need, when I need it, and how I need it, helps me to stay solution oriented. It helps me to believe it is possible for me to figure out different layers over time (or to the extent I am supposed to at any given point in time) and that I am enough in different roles as I am only part of his overarching plan. He will use others to fill the gaps that I am not able to, those spaces where I will never be able to do enough because I am not supposed to. There will be avenues and solutions for everything that is God’s will for my life.
Be flexible and see the beauty in the process: Critical thinking requires flexible thinking and a willingness to explore with curiosity. It means a commitment to considering possibilities, trying them out and fine-tuning over time. It means thinking about what is set in the schedule and about how the other spaces can be manipulated and re-arranged. It means recognizing it is a messy process but also seeing the beauty in opportunities to grow in faith and trust along the way, of recognizing there is a purpose for each experience.
Lord of Peace, lead me in your light. Help me to journey towards you with perseverance, humility, joy, and peace. Remind me that in every moment, your grace is enough.
Copyright 2018 Amanda Villagómez