AnneMarie Miller describes how the stress of losing her cell-phone charger helped reinvigorate her prayer life.
I could feel the stress rising as I rummaged through the messy countertop. Here I was, at home with a newborn baby, a toddler, and a preschooler. After taking a month off of work, my husband had just returned to his office, and I couldn’t find my cell-phone charger anywhere. With a few mournful beeps, the battery on my phone drained as I frantically searched for the charger. No usable phone meant no stress-texting my husband and no contacting fellow moms on a whim to arrange playdates or simply connect to stay sane. Even though I don’t use my phone much, its presence reassures me that I have a lifeline in the unpredictable, long days as a stay-at-home mom.
As my children dashed around the house that Wednesday morning, I rushed into my bedroom to look in one more place for the phone charger. I paced through the room, and something caught my eye: gold letters that formed the words Daily Roman Missal. I stopped suddenly as a feeling of shame washed over me. I had spent the last several minutes of my morning hunting nonstop for a cell-phone charger, but I had not taken even a few moments for quiet prayer and reflection.
I grabbed the missal and flipped through the pages to find the Mass readings for the day. Taking just a few moments to read through the Scripture passages, I added in my own quiet prayers before I entered back into the chaos of life with young children. St. Paul’s exhortation, found in the First Reading, bounced in my mind: “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
I had been seeking my own interests (finding my phone charger) in earnest, but until that moment, I had given no thought to seeking spiritual gifts. I hadn’t looked for God’s presence or peace in my day, and I hadn’t quieted myself to connect with Him. This incident was a reminder that I desperately needed: Connecting with others is valuable, but connecting with God is more important.
How many times do I bounce from one conversation, text message, or activity with friends to the next, without first giving God even a minute of my time? I live a fairly uncomplicated and quiet life, yet the more I think about it, the more I realize that I too often make prayer an “optional” activity.
Instead of relegating prayer to a few spare moments at the end of each day (if I happen to have time), I need to intentionally carve out time to spend with God. Within our rich Catholic heritage, there are numerous ways to weave our days around the rhythm of prayer, like the Liturgy of the Hours and the Angelus. I’ve gone through periods of delving into these beautiful prayers, but I’m finding that in the frenzy of postpartum life, instead of getting hung up on the fact that I’ve struggled to incorporate these prayers (and typically end up not praying), I should focus on simplicity and regularity.
Whether we’re caught up in the chaos of the school year, work, life with small children, or another type of transition, we all go through periods where we can become overwhelmed with stress or exhaustion. While it is important to make time for self-care and build up our friendships with others -- particularly during these unpredictable times -- we can’t leave God waiting on the sidelines. As we dive into the final stretch of the liturgical year (believe it or not, Advent will quickly be on the horizon!), let us seek simple, regular ways to enter into prayerful conversations with God each day.
Copyright 2020 AnneMarie Miller
Image: Pixabay (2015)
About the Author
A bibliophile, wife, mother of young children, and lover of the Liturgy, AnneMarie Miller enjoys exploring the manifold—and quirky—ways in which God speaks. She can often be found reading books to her kids, burrowing her toes in the red Oklahoma dirt, or sipping black coffee. Her reflections on Catholicism, literature, and hope can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.