“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 the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist in training. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.