As mothers, there are these moments we give to God, often without realizing it. Whenever we go against what our selfish desires beg for and do what is most important in that moment, our sacrifice is for Jesus. It's better, of course, if we are conscious of the gift in the moment, but I believe even if we are not thinking of it, the Lord is pleased.
This Lent, my goal has been to spend two thirty-minute chunks of time sitting in a designated chair for prayer. I've managed to do this about 50% of the time, so far, and it has been wonderful. My natural inclination, of course, is to berate myself for the 50% of the time I fail to meet my goal, but I am trying to be gentle with myself and grateful for the time I do get with God.
Now, you might be thinking about how impossible this would be for you. You have small children. You have too much to do. You can't sit still. You dread the thought of waking up early. You don't want to give up your "free" from children time. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too.
The wonder of this practice is that I am consciously deciding by the physical act of putting myself in the chair that this time is for God. I get interrupted. The 12 year old and 9 year old know to try to leave me alone as best as possible, but the 4 year old and 2 year old do not. But, knowing I am deciding to be in the presence of God, I respond to them with love, more often than not.
While I have been counseled by countless priests to stop thinking of prayer as something to check off of my to-do list, the reality is that I have to have a plan or it doesn't happen. Fortunately, such wise counsel reminds me that while prayer is something I have "to do," by setting the time limit, I let go of the litany of prayers I think I should accomplish: pray divine office or Scripture, write in my Lenten Journal, read Fr. Barron's daily reflection, do my spiritual reading, etc... and I sit. Sometimes I write, read, and pray quietly. More often than not, I write a few words in a journal, respond to 20 questions, pray a quick aspiration, read a book about fire trucks, read a Quiet Time post from the Restore Workshop, redirect sibling battles, and close my eyes to rest in the Lord. It works, somehow.
Sitting still is the hardest part. And I do get up to tend to little ones, but I sit back down. I force myself into that chair and remind myself that my goal is not thirty uninterrupted minutes but thirty minutes given to God, whatever I do during that time. It has been blessed.
At first, I didn't wake up early. I am not a morning person. But now, after enjoying some snippets of time with God, I find myself more motivated to get up early to hope my thirty minutes can be uninterrupted and more peaceful. Of course, like this morning, as soon as I pour a cup of tea, often my little ones wake up, no matter how early I get up!
And, I am trying to put the littles down for their naps and going straight to my chair, but it's much easier for me to sit first thing in the morning. The second thirty minutes is a much bigger sacrifice, because once I'm moving, it's really hard for me to slow down and choose sitting over doing. When I do, as we all know, the rest of the day usually goes more smoothly.
What Lenten practice has been the most helpful to you, so far, this season?