Some of my kids have had the sniffles this week, and I’m not feeling so hot either (more emotionally drained than physically – more on that maybe one of these days). Plus, we were at Gaba’s a few days this week to keep her from going completely stir crazy as she continues to recover from her back surgery. So I’m re-posting a version of something I wrote way back in spring 2008 (have I really been blogging that long?).
There’s a reason I chose this one from the mountain of archived posts. I really, really felt like I needed the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week. I rearranged my schedule and made sure my older girls would be in good hands while I renewed my soul. Then the baby and I headed out to a scheduled weekly confession time. When I arrived, the doors to the church were locked. A few other people were there for confession as well. We chatted and after we’d all been waiting for close to half an hour, someone came to inform us that there would be no confession that evening.
That’s when I almost started to cry. (When I reached my car, the floodgates broke and I did cry.)
I was extremely frustrated with the situation and wondering why I’d made all this effort for naught. Later that evening though I started to consider that the very fact that I couldn’t make it to confession when I’d planned to just may have been a divine nudge from God. In fact, one of the sins I was planning to confess had a lot to do with feeling out of control.
Newsflash, Katie: You are not in control. You never been and you never will be.
I wrote this post a long time ago, but it seems I remain a recovering control freak. Do you find you struggle with the same weaknesses, too? If the answer is no, then don’t bother commenting. Just kidding. Sort of.
On a completely different note, today is my final guest post on writing at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. I’m sharing some final tips for folks who dream of getting paid to write or who just want to improve their craft. You can read it here.
Without further ado, from the archives:
I’ve really got to work on being more flexible. Not in the Downward Facing Dog kind of way (although I could use a little more flexibility in the body department as well, considering my back and even my hamstrings have been feeling really tight after toting around a baby all day), but more in the “I’m open to God’s plan – even if it’s different than mine” variety.
I recently read 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’m 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’m productive. I don’t procrastinate. I meet deadlines. 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. A daughter refuses to let me brush her hair. The baby projectile vomits all over me just as we’re ready to head out the door. All of the 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 romantic, fancy schmancy dinner for the two of us. 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 an older child 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). 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. The United States becomes a socialist regime and we’re forced to move to New Zealand. (Yes, I’m using a little hyperbole, but, really, 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 (and probably God) 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. For instance, 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. That freelance assignment can wait – really, it can, you anal geek; your deadline is not for another two weeks. Your toddler 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 curve balls 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. An athlete stretches to gain more flexibility and to prevent injury; 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.
My spiritual resolution for the week: Be open to God’s plan for you both in daily life and in what he’s calling to do with your life.
Here are some ideas I have to help make this resolution a reality:
• Be spontaneous! Surprise your spouse with a date night.
• Pick a day of the week to stay in your PJs with the kiddos and have a pajama party. Or, if weather permits, go outside and search for signs of fall.
• Call up a friend last minute and invite her 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.
• During your daily prayers shut up long enough to listen to what God’s asking you to do.
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.