One of the things I’ve realized in my ongoing quest for peace in daily life is that I tend to worry and second-guess myself a lot, especially when things are overwhelming. I frequently have all sorts of “am I doing this wrong?” or “would it be better for the kids if I did XYZ like my supermom friend does?” type dialogues running through my head. None of it causes huge amounts of stress, but there is a sort of low-grade angst that’s frequently haunting the back of my mind, especially on tough days when I’m mentally maxed out anyway.
I’ve been trying to address all these little worries individually in prayer, but realized that I stress about so many random things that it’s hard to remember to properly consider each one when prayer time rolls around — especially here at Casa Chaos. A few weeks ago I started to feel like all these little straws on the proverbial camel’s back were starting to get awfully heavy, and an idea occurred to me: start an Adoration List. I don’t know whether it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit or just some crazy idea I pulled out of my hat, but here’s what it involves:
- Keep a sheet of paper in the kitchen where I can jot down a quick note any time I find myself worrying.
- After making the note, resolve to let go of my anxiety about the issue for the time being.
- Plan to have my husband watch the kids so that I can go to Adoration the first Friday of each month (the two nearest churches only have Adoration once a month — which is perfect for me because then I can’t procrastinate).
- Take this list with me. After spending some time in silence and prayer, consider all of these issues both individually and as a whole: what are the genuine problems that deserve my attention? What are the things that aren’t really problems and I need to stop agonizing about? And so on.
- Leave the Adoration chapel with a written list of the few issues that are significant enough to warrant further action or consideration; resolve to let go of anything that is not on that list.
Having this Adoration List on my kitchen clipboard has already been a help to free my mind from all the little distracting thoughts I have throughout the day. Some of the items that are scribbled on this month’s list in various colored pens and with stains from various types of toddler-friendly food next to them:
– Kids watching too much TV?
– Not getting enough exercise?
– Necessary to force the issue of potty training? If so, when? This can’t go on until he’s 20…right?
– Parish Mother’s Day Out program — good idea? Bad idea? Too expensive?
– Have been trying to get to household projects like pantry reorganization, garage cleanout, etc. for more than a year, really bugs me that it never gets done
– Spending too much on groceries?
– Not looking at spending vs. budget each month — are we over budget? How to get more time to focus on this?
– Kids eating too much processed food?
To give you an example, last week I got home from the grocery store and all the kids were tired, hungry and fussy. Standing in a sea of grocery bags and listening to a symphony of shrieking I thought about how our grocery spending has been increasing lately, and wondered how far over budget we were. Not able to listen to much more noise without losing my mind, I brought out my secret weapon: the bag of Goldfish. As the toddlers sat happily munching on the little orange crackers, I wondered if perhaps my pediatrician was right that Goldfish are not actually the fifth food group, and wondered if I resort to feeding the kids processed foods too often. Then I remembered that I was worrying about our grocery spending, so I got back to that. But while I was putting away the groceries a bunch of cans fell off the shelf and I was reminded once again the our pantry is a disaster area and I’ve really wanted to sort through it for more than a year yet it’s never happened. I was trying to focus on the “my life is out of control because my closets, pantry and garage are overflowing and trashed and I never have time/energy to do anything about it” stress when I saw the kids eating Goldfish and remembered that I was supposed to be stressing about that, and then I saw the grocery receipt and…well, you get the idea.
In that moment, it was a great relief to simply get out my Adoration List and start writing. Though there was that control-freak voice in the back of my mind that said “YOU MUST FIND THE PERFECT SOLUTION TO EVERY ONE OF THESE ISSUES NOW! NOW! NOW!”, I was actually able to make a conscious choice to just let go and revisit it at Adoration.
Today is the first Friday of the month, so as soon as my husband gets home in a couple of hours I’m going to take my little list and head out. I’ve never tried this before — heck, I’ve never even been to Adoration before — so we’ll see how it goes.
P.S. If anyone has any thoughts / experiences / stories about Adoration, I’d love to hear it. I know a lot of people find it very spiritually fulfilling but, like I said, I have no direct experience with it.
UPDATE: Click here for the update.