Did Mary have days like this?

May 25, 2007 | Daily Spirituality, Motherhood, Prayer | 6 comments

Sarah has a great article up at CatholicDaily.org where she asks, “Did Mary have days like this?” Not only was it refreshing to hear that someone else was having one of those days, but I’m thrilled to add the word “Toddler-tron” to my vocabulary. She writes:

I don’t have a good excuse. No sudden death, news of great tragedy, or personal fall-through. The clock just met 4:00, Toddler-tron started with her customary late afternoon ranting, and it all unraveled from there. Somehow, the everyday things – the weight of my worries, the onslaught of my duties, the trial of just getting through the rest of the day – were more than I could handle.

Ooooh yeah. For me it was getting caught in a sudden rainstorm with a cart full of kids and groceries, a cashier who forgot to scan a coupon, and a teething baby who finds yelling to be the most efficient way to communicate these days, but yeah — I’m right there with her.

Except for when it comes to how to handle that sort of situation.

Sarah tried the interesting technique of turning to prayer. I, on the other hand, went for my standard coping mechanism of having an imaginary conversation in my head with my husband where I dumped all the details of my rotten day to him, including an aside with my conspiracy theory regarding the forgotten coupon.

So how did Sarah’s technique work out? She writes:

Then, on my drive home, I remembered that I didn’t finish my rosary this morning. I felt myself calming down as I worked my way through the last four mysteries. It was like someone was hugging me, holding me, comforting me. There’s no doubt in my mind who that was.

Oddly enough, my technique of narrating every moment of my frustration during my imaginary conversation with my husband in my head did not produce such fruits. Once I started that ball rolling, it picked up speed. And for the next hour or so every little thing just seemed so irritating.

It actually occurred to me at one point to turn to God, to use this as an opportunity to seek his will at every moment (as I’ve been trying to do lately). I thought for a brief moment about what, theoretically, God would want me to do in this situation, and shrugged when I came up with nothing. The baby was crying again and I had to get her in out of the rain.

What I did not do at any point, however, was to stop and pray. Not even for five seconds. Once again, I was trying to rely on myself. I turned inward to come up with the knowledge of what I should be thinking or doing to get through this situation gracefully. I elbowed God aside while I tried to recall what I’d read about how I was supposed to be following his will.

Sarah’s post helps me realize that what I should have done is stop, even for just a second, to humble myself before God and open myself to his help. To turn towards God through prayer, instead of taking a step away from him and withdrawing into myself.

Sarah offers some great thoughts on this:

Could it be that days like this are just part of the human condition? Could it be that Screwtape and his band of tempters are hard at work to make perfectly good days look like days like this, just to get us to slip up, maybe strangle our kid (oh, I came so close!) or yell at our spouse or take a step back away from God? And you know, once you’ve taken that first step, however small, what’s another one? And really, who needs God and all his restrictions anyway? Who needs the laws and the parameters and all that hooey?

Those last few sentences about those small steps we take away from God are an eerily accurate description of what I’ve experienced throughout my spiritual journey. It is so easy to let bad habits build on one another. “Small” things like being short with my children or husband on the grounds that I’m having a tough day lay fertile ground for more self-centeredness. As Sarah writes, what’s one more little step?

So this is going to be my latest challenge as I bumblingly learn to seek God’s will at each moment: when those frustrating moments come up, stop (actually, physically stop) and turn to God. Don’t try to intellectually analyze what it was the Church Fathers wrote about seeking God’s will or what that latest book by Pope Benedict said on the subject. Just pray.

6 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I’d like to add that I’m no saint, Jennifer, and that I do not always (by any means) remember to stop and pray. When I read what you wrote, I was nodding along – because I’m the same way. REMEMBERING to stop and pray…yeah, why’s that so hard? Sometimes, all I can do is just sing that song “Jesus, take the (*&$#^ wheel” (oh wait, I think I added a word…) And maybe it would help to have the frustrated conversation directed right at the guy at the top (Jesus). I will sometimes just say, “Listen, God/Jesus (depending on if I’m in a Father or a Son kind of mood), this is too much. Work with me here.” Something about talking like that to him/them gives me a dose of humor (like who am I to cop an attitude with GOD?!?) that lets me see the road again, or at least less red.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the article and kudos for your wonderful post. I really enjoy what I read here, and so relate with the things you write about!

  2. :o)

    When I’m wound up I try to listen to Our Lady’s Musical Rosary by Donna Cori Gibson which always has a calming effect. St.Dymphna always helps, too.

  3. Jen

    I just found your site and want to let you know you are not alone in your struggle. I, too, tend to turn inwards to solve situations (and usually end up doing it in an uncharitable way) instead of turning to God. I don’t know why, it’s almost like asking for help is too much work…does that make any sense? It sounds horrible when I type it out. Anyway, I will be offering up sacrifices for you to help you along your way..Great site!

  4. Ouiz

    OK, on a day like today (who am I kidding? With weeks like I’ve had recently) I got a GREAT laugh out of Sarah’s comment on,

    “Jesus, take the (*&$#^ wheel”

    I’m sorry, but the way I’m feeling right now, that is so hysterically funny.

    God bless you, Sarah! I’m right there with you on that one!

    [on a more positive note, I *did* just call my best friend to pray with me, so I’m expecting the grace to come pouring down any second…]

  5. Jeron

    This was a really good post. I’ve been feeling something sorely lacking in my prayer life, which is actual – real- dependence on God instead of me. I *think* I’m praying to God, but in actuality I *think* I’m really just relying on myself & my intellectualizations of spiritual books I’ve read and going through the “how to” business of solving stuff for myself. Does that make any sense? How does a person REEEALLY let go and give something to God? Where do I leave off w/my impertinent will, and where does God’s Will begin in my life? If at all? Here endeth the frustrated rant.

  6. Jennifer F.

    How does a person REEEALLY let go and give something to God?

    Jeron – great question. Exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ll let you know if/when I ever come up with anything. 🙂

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