As my readers know, I was really looking forward to making it to confession today. I arrived early, so I’d be one of the first folks in line. Then I waited. And waited.
Just a few months earlier I’d driven one hour to my parents’ house, so they could watch my girls while I went to confession. The priest never showed up. As I waited this morning, I kept telling myself that surely that wouldn’t happen again. As the clock ticked and the line grew, I started getting annoyed. “God,” I found myself saying. “It’s not easy for me to make it to confession. Here I am. Help me out here.”
After nearly 30 minutes of stewing in line, one of the Adoration guardians slipped out and came to inform all of us that the priests had all traveled downtown to the cathedral for a special ordination, and there would unfortunately be no confession today.
She smiled and then said, “But God knows your heart.”
Then I saw her ask someone in line that she knew if he could go to the Adoration Chapel to wait for the next guardian to arrive. He gladly agreed. I followed him.
An ongoing struggle for me is to deal with thwarted plans. “Going with the flow” is not my strong suit. On Friday we were getting ready to leave for First Friday Mass and our homeschooling co-op when my 5-year-old spilled her entire bowl of Raisin Bran on our dining room carpet. (Parents: Whatever you do, do not buy a home with a carpeted dining area. Think of the children. And your lovely beige carpets. And your sanity.) I was on the verge of tears because I’d worked so hard to plan ahead so that we’d have plenty of time to spare and wouldn’t be racing out the door, and now there was this big mess of mushy bran flakes to contend with along with a contrite, little girl and a fussy baby. We raced to Mass. I complained about the rain, and I was a general grouch, all because of a stupid spill on the carpet.
Later that same day while I nursed the baby to sleep, my 2-year-old took it upon herself to add some colorful chalk graffiti to our carpet. I came downstairs and saw her charming artwork and fumed. So much for a quiet, peaceful afternoon. Now I’d be scrubbing our carpets – again.
This morning, as I waited in line for confession, I felt myself becoming more and more anxious and frustrated. I kept hearing a hushed whisper suggesting I just use this time to pray in the Adoration Chapel, but I didn’t listen until I saw someone else smile and accept that he wouldn’t be making it to confession and would be spending time in Adoration instead.
Once I gave in and retreated to the quiet, all my frustrations faded away as I realized that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. God not only knows my heart; he knows what’s best for it. Perhaps what I needed more than confession was the silence so that I could just have a chat with God.
When I returned home, I immediately wanted to share how God gave me a teaching moment by not allowing me to receive a sacrament I thought I so desperately needed in order to put some peace in my heart. As soon as I started writing, however, a toddler found me and asked if I’d read her a book. I hesitated. I so badly wanted to say, “In just a minute,” but I heard that whisper again. “Spend time with your child. You can write later.”
This time I didn’t ignore it. So often I recognize God’s will for me from moment to moment, but it takes a lot of discipline to bend to it, especially when I want so badly for my daily routine to be just so.
During Adoration I’d thought of my attitude toward all the unexpected twists and turns my life as a mom brings and how it’s too often one of exasperation or despair. My days are unpredictable and often messy, too. Try as I might to map things out on my iCal, the reality of my life is usually very, very different from what I had in mind. It’s easy for me to feel secure when things are going as planned, but when life throws me a curve ball (or a big stain on the carpet)? Not so much.
Yet, God has no obligation to make things turn out the way we want them to, but what he does promise to do is to bless me when I embrace every opportunity as a chance to hold onto him rather than becoming frustrated or angry. This morning he blessed me with time in Adoration. Later after some extra snuggling with my toddler, he blessed me with an unexpected chunk of writing time, thanks to an extra long nap from the baby.
While I’m not suggesting my day was full of divine prompts or that I should take a priest not showing up this morning as a sign that I don’t need the graces of Reconciliation, what became clear to me with the multiple detours I’ve faced lately is that giving up my own plans in favor of God’s Plan B is often exactly just what I need to grow in holiness.
So today I am blessed. I just didn’t arrive there using my own map.
*UPDATE: It just occurred to me that “Plan B” probably isn’t the best title for a post about following God’s plans. Then again, maybe someone will Google “Plan B” and end up here.