For me, it is here. My Spirit is already hearing the call to surrender. There are so many things we can give up each year, so many things we can add, so many things we can surrender. I still feel so firm in the case that Fr. Baker made a few years back when I heard him speak at a Lent by Candlelight. The many things God asks of us are so much better than anything we could ever choose for ourself. A hard thing to swallow, but I am finding very true in my day to day life in this moment. I would prefer a thousand fasts over some of the things God is asking of me. The question remains, when next week comes, how will I really give in with my whole heart and joyfully accept these crosses. I just don't know.
We had a good friend, who is consecrated (taking promises of chastity, poverty and obedience), for dinner last week and as we told her about the new lake house Patrick's parents built, we joked about the state of shock Uncle Fr. Eddie is always in when he goes from living in the house of priests to spending a week with his two brothers, sister, their spouses and 11 children combined! He jokes about how he thinks maybe his vocation is "easier" in a sense. I know there are many similarities, but I am not sure easier is the right word when it comes to differences. Anyway, our friend, Lucy, listened and then exclaimed, "OH, absolutely, you have things tougher. You have absolutely no control over anything with these little ones!" (Now, I am still not sure I agree on our vocation being "tougher") but I have been reflecting on the part where we have no control. This is because this is where I struggle most.
Control. Isn't this part of the sin of pride? I'm no theologian, but I think that when we just can't have it all our way, right now, how we want it... and we are totally hating being out of control, that would be our pride?
Here is where I am. I do not want someone to spill their food on the floor after I just swept. I do not want Adam to empty the toilet water with a cup that he found in the bathroom after I just cleaned the toilet. I do not want someone to ask me three times in a row for a snack when I clearly have gloves on and am washing dishes. I do not want to change the 4th poop diaper in 3 hours, especially when I can not easily get down and up off the floor to do it because I am so big. I do not want this crazy heartburn or aching legs or numb back. I certainly don't like getting up to potty 5 times a night. And in the middle of waking and falling back asleep, I certainly do not prefer to be awoken by the child who wets the bed or needs a drink of water. I don't want Adam to pull the bags of snacks out of the drawer and dump them on the ground or bite Anthony and make him cry, so I have to punish him. I just don't want to. I just want the control. It is all so overwhelming and exhausting. All of it.
It is a day in and day out process of learning how to be patient, how to not yell, how to continue to do so many jobs that no one will ever see, and pick up so many messes for the 1st, 2nd, 5th time and still feel I have gotten no where. It is a process of begging for the grace of God to make it through. It is every stay at home mom's cross. When they are so little, we have very little control and hard as we try and as orderly as we push to make it. They are very unpredictable in their moods, their needs and their ages.
It is at this point as I pray that I remember doing something very difficult many years ago. It was a long journey of taking all the sentiment out and just continue with the doing because it was good and right and the grace and or the presence of God may have just not been there in obvious ways to me. My spiritual guide told me, "You wake up, you do these things you're called to (fill in the blank for yourself), and every time, with every small thing, you whisper, 'Lord, I do this because I love you.'"
It is looking at the face of Jesus as He hangs on the cross and knowing that He knows what it feels like to be out of control. He knows what it's like to hand His whole self over to the Lord and trust that He will do what is right with the little we feel we have to offer.... although Jesus loved to the very end.. and we are still so imperfect in ours. So, this is where I find myself. Trying to remember that it has nothing to do with me, but has everything to do with Him.
So, now I start practicing my whisper... "Lord, I do this and everything because I love you." And I remember that He first loved me.
Lent, we are starting to be ready for you. Bring on the Confessional graces.