Here’s my second installation of Working Wednesday:
I’ve really got to work on being more flexible. Not in the Downward Facing Dog kind of way but more in the “I’m open to God’s plan – even if it’s different than mine” variety.
Like what Sarah over at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering did with this week’s Catholic Carnival. See, she had this grandiose “plan” to include insightful commentary with each Carnival post, but the weather and her children and God (yes, he works his way into the small plans of life, too) had a different one. So instead of writing a dissertationesque Carnival, she pushed her kiddos in the swings and soaked up the fresh air. The crazy thing is my plan was to write about my tendency for being too rigid in my life instead of going with the flow (in fact, I started writing this post last night) before I checked out Sarah’s hostess job. That sneaky Holy Spirit is always at work…
What spurred my desire to write on this topic was a walk down Memory Lane in the form of reading an entry in an old faith journal where I was writing about the Israelites’ struggles. I wrote: “I’ll thankfully never have to face what they [the Israelites] faced – living under an oppressive, godless ruler and being whisked away to a foreign land, but there are plenty of things that will (and have) happened that are completely out of my control. Do I question God when my own plan is disrupted, or do I go with the flow and look to God for peace and for guidance?”
It’s funny how these similar themes keep popping up in my life. I struggle with the same issues. I am a repeat offender who confesses the same sins over and over during Reconciliation. This whole control freak/lack of flexibility issue is one of my top fivers.
I come from a long line of planners and control freaks. We like to be in charge. We thrive on knowing what’s ahead. I personally like to have both short-term and long-term goals outlined and then I like to execute them in a streamlined fashion. This is a good trait in some ways because I get things done. I don’t procrastinate. I achieve my goals. I meet deadlines. I’m dependable. Blah, blah, blah.
However, my need for absolute control and precise planning can become a problem when I’m faced with the twists and turns of life. On a small scale, things happen every day to disturb my daily routine or my daily plan to accomplish any number of tasks. Madeline refuses to let me brush her hair. The baby becomes more nuclear than North Korea just as we’re ready to head out the door. Both kids decide to actually sleep in when we have to be somewhere by 8 a.m. Dave has to stay at the hospital late when I’d planned on making a fancy schmancy dinner just for his taste buds. Just as I sit down to pray or to write or to make a grocery list, the baby wakes up from a short snooze and Madeline decides quiet time is for the birds or any other animal but her.
Sometimes the “surprises” of life are more large-scale. I can’t conceive right away (as was the case with our second child). Madeline transforms from a well adjusted, no hassle, anything but terrible 2-year-old to a still sweet but needy as can be and sometimes slaphappy 3-year-old over night. The car breaks down and we have to tap into our emergency savings.
And it could be a lot worse. One of my parents gets really sick. I unexpectedly lose a loved one. I face a difficult medical diagnosis. We suffer a miscarriage. Doctors become government employees and we have to move to Australia after residency. (You never know.)
The fact is I really don’t have control over a lot of things in life and when I try to, all I do is drive myself crazy. As I mentioned, it’s okay and sometimes even beneficial to have a plan in mind, but I’ve got to learn to know when my plan is keeping me from being receptive to God’s blueprint for my life, from being the best mom and wife I can be, from putting Christ at the center of my life. On a smaller scale, my days can’t be so jam-packed with “things to do” that I leave no room for spontaneity, games of peek-a-boo, random hugs or unprompted prayers. My freelance assignment can wait – really, it can, you anal geek; your deadline is not for another two weeks. Your 3-year-old wants you now. Put the laptop away and go have a pretend tea party with her.
I must learn to react to all of life’s curveballs without anger, anxiety or exasperation. I must adapt, be flexible. I must take a deep breath and trust that God knows what he’s doing. A yoga devotee practices poses to gain more flexibility; I must practice “going with the flow” when I encounter baby (both literally and not literally) intrusions into my everyday plan so that I might be able to, with God’s help, handle the bombshells of life with grace and faithful acceptance.
Actually, a literal baby intrusion is calling me to adapt right at this moment. The Exersaucer has lost its appeal and Baby needs her Mommy.
Scripture: “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Matthew 6: 33-34)
“Do not take away your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, your beloved, Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no holocaust, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received;
As though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.” (Daniel 35: 43)
Spiritual Resolution: Be open to God’s plan for you both in daily life and in what he’s calling you to do with your life. Pick any one (or several!) of the following and do it within the next week:
• Be spontaneous! Surprise your spouse with a date night.
• On next Tuesday, even if you had something “planned,” choose to stay in your PJs with the kiddos and have a pajama party. Or, if weather permits, go outside and search for signs of spring.
• Call up a friend last minute and invite them to share a glass of wine with you and some good conversation.
• If your child tugs on your hand while you’re trying to finish a task – no matter how important you think it is – stop what you’re doing and get down to your child’s level and listen to what he or she has to say.
Prayer: “God, I want to give you my heart and to be open to your graces and your will, but I can get so wrapped up in my own plans and the tasks at hand that I leave little room for you in my life. Please remind me to look to you for guidance and peace when things happen (or don’t) that are out of my control. Remind me that I really can relax, knowing that my life and the lives of all those I love are in your capable, caring hands. Amen.”