A few hours after I wrote the post about faith and control I opened up my Lenten reading, Pope Benedict’s Journey to Easter. I immediately came across this paragraph, which was exactly the reminder I needed:
“To be converted” means to follow Jesus, to walk with him, on his way. But let us again insist on the fact that God “brings us back, ” converts us. Conversion is not human self-realization, and man is not the architect of his own life. Conversion consists essentially in that decision by which man ceases to be his own creator, ceases to seek his own self and his self-realization, but accepts his dependence on the true Creator, on creative love, accepts that his dependence is true freedom and that the freedom of autonomy emancipated from the Creator is not freedom but illusion, deception.
And a sweet friend sent me this little prayer after reading that post:
Dear Lord, I do not ask to see the path. In darkness, in anguish and in fear, I will hang on tightly to your hand, and I will close my eyes, so that you know how much trust I place in you, Spouse of my soul.~ Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad
So I’ve had confirmation that my hunch that I must trust before I can be close to God was right. Now for the hard part: putting it into practice.
As I mentioned in the previous post, it is so very hard to trust when you still have issues with faith. I actually almost never have serious doubts about God and the Church anymore. The world just makes too much sense seen through that lens. I’ve seen too much proof. But for me to place the outcome of my life, and therefore the lives of my children, in the hands of a Being that I can’t sit down and have a cup of coffee with and pepper with questions about the details of his plans, is difficult. Very difficult.
It’s not that my doubts are so strong, but that I’m putting all my chips on this one bet. Now that I’m a parent it becomes so daunting and frightening to yield control my life, of our lives, to an unseen, mysterious Entity. I think it’s very unlikely that I’m wrong or deluding myself about God’s existence…but I look at my children playing on the floor, who are so dependent on me, and can’t help but think: What if I’m wrong? What will become of us?
Also, the sheer logistics of growing closer to God, becoming more in tune with his will, are difficult in this phase of life. My seven-month-old has a new habit of waking up every two hours at night to scream for no particular reason; my two-year-old is a little bundle of energy; we have some really daunting financial issues in front of us; this new pregnancy is high risk, expensive and somewhat complicated to manage; and I’m just exhausted all the time. I know that daily work as a housewife can be a prayerful experience, that you don’t need to live the life of a nun to grow close to God, but I feel particularly mentally and physically taxed right now, leaving little room for spiritual growth.
My best efforts at prayer and reflection are not that great, often muttered through a haze of sleep deprivation, sometimes even resentful selfishness, so I worry all the more about turning over the reigns of my life. What if I misunderstand God’s will? What if his voice isn’t getting through to me amidst the fatigue and the chaos?
I know that it’s frustrating that I write this post during a time that I’ve closed the comments. I’m sure that you all have brilliant things to say, as always. But I think that this time there’s not much anyone can say to help me. This one’s between me and God. I take all these fears, all these “What if?”‘s, and offer them to Our Lord. I tell him that I give up, I’m too tired to figure it out on my own anyway, and that if he has a path he wants me to follow he’d better speak up so that I can hear him over the screaming baby and the talkative toddler. I offer him my best efforts at faith and prayer, which are pitiful, but it’s the best I can do right now. I ask him to help me, even if I’m not doing my part very well. And I’m going to trust.
I’ll take the risk that I’m wrong and God and faith are all a grand self-delusion. If that’s true, then we have bigger problems anyway. In my biggest leap of faith yet, I’m going to say and live Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad’s prayer. In the midst of one spiritual setback after another and a disappointingly dry Lent — in the face of these very trying spiritual tests, the lackluster and the uneventful — I will simply close my eyes, and trust. We’ll see what happens.
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