A few years ago, I was sitting in a hospital room (seems like a common theme with me) having a dialog with the Lord. Really, I was ranting. I was upset, I was tired and I was on the verge of despair, but not quite there. At that moment I was just angry. “Lord, why? Why us? Why me? We are doing your will!”
I was like a crazed pre-teen ranting to her father over the injustice of it all.
“You SAID it would be okay! This is NOT okay! We stopped contracepting! We are open to life! We followed our conscience to do your will and we were rewarded with Lily Gianna who died before we heard her heartbeat. We were devastated but comforted knowing she was in your arms. Then we waited in anguish to conceive again because the doctor said there was a chance of having cancer. I faithfully got my blood drawn each week and, yes, we cheated a little bit and began trying to conceive a tad earlier than the doctor would have liked, but we knew you were still in our corner and my numbers were perfect. I wasn’t even that upset about having gestational diabetes this time around. Spending several hours in the hospital getting an IV because I was dehydrated was tolerable, but now you’ve crossed the line, God. You’ve asked too much of me. You misled me.”
I had spent the night in the ICU after what turned out to be life-saving surgery to unblock my kidney and stop the infection that was working to destroy my body. Both baby and I had survived the ordeal, but I was stuck in the hospital recuperating and concern had turned from me to the baby. The doctors thought the baby’s heartrate was dipping too low at times and I was under the threat of an emergency delivery. I was broken and tired of it all and I lashed out. I shouted at the Guy who loved me so much that He willingly suffered humiliation and torture. I was accusing Him of being a liar. I might as well have been in the crowd that day, yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Such was my anger and disgust.
Then I was silent. And in that silence, I felt His presence. I felt Him telling me that I was okay.
I immediately did what any pregnant woman would do when she is a ball of nerves and confusion and has just done something really embarrassing. I began to laugh hysterically. “Okay God, you’re right. You said it would be okay. You didn’t say it would be easy.”
Lord, help me to follow you in the midst of my suffering. Help me to say yes to your will, even when it is painful.
My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.
I’m all about reminders. I regularly make lists so I don’t forget important tasks. I put activities in my calendar app and set alarms to remind me of important events. I set the timer on my phone to remind me to pick up a child from somewhere or take the food out of the oven. I’ve forgotten to do both of those things before and let me tell you, burned rolls are no match for the mental anguish you feel when you realize your child has been at art class for nearly 45 minutes past pickup time and you were just hanging out with grandma, said child the farthest thing from your mind. And of course the sweet teacher is telling your child all the while that she’s sure her mom didn’t forget her, she probably just got stuck in traffic. No, darling, mom straight up forgot. Insert defeated emoji.
If you’re anything like me, you need reminders of your faith in the everyday. I mean, if I could forget my own, living, breathing flesh and blood minor child, how am I going to remember to keep Christ, whom I can’t physically see, at the center of my life? I do that in my home with art and other sacramentals. A crucifix above the kitchen light switch helps me remember that Christ is the light of the world. A fresco of the Last Supper blessed by Saint John Paul II hangs in my dining room, reminding me of the Eucharist and Christ’s great sacrifice. Saint Joseph graces our mantel and to me is a great reminder of the dignity of work. All of these items are a call to prayer and a call to do the work of Christ.
I would like to share with you a little printable I made for my kitchen to remind me to call on the Holy Spirit throughout the day. Please head over to the FREEBIES page to download and print your own copy.
I’m supposed to be writing, but I’m just standing in my office, surrounded by piles of stuff. Books, instead of being nestled snugly into place on the shelf lay haphazardly on the floor. Piles of papers that were once necessary action items are now ugly reminders that I’m behind on everything. An empty camera bag that I don’t need sits forlornly on top of a basket of cords and who knows what else. I usually avoid this space because it makes me uncomfortable. I sink into the swiveling office chair and slowly scan the room. All these items are shouting at me, telling me I’m not good enough. I’m lazy. I don’t deserve such a nice home or 90 square feet of space to call my own. I see rough mountains of junk and think to myself, “Don’t you want a nice tidy space? Don’t you want to be able to enjoy a project in there? Don't you want to pay a bill quickly without having to search for 10 minutes for a pen or to move piles just to find the space to write a check?”
And my answer was classic.
Yes, I want those things but I don’t have the time to work on it now. Yes, but I really don't know where many of these items go. Yes, but I don’t have the proper storage yet. Yes, but the kids will just mess it up as soon as I get it done. Yes, but before I start cleaning, I need to make a decision about how the room should look when I'm done. Yes, but I need a babysitter for a weekend to tackle a project like this. Yes, but I can’t get rid of those half empty packages of specialty paper because I might need them again. Yes, but I need to work on the laundry, it is more important right now.
I really WOULD like a tidy office, so why do I put off the task of making it nice? I’m avoiding the cleanup because I’m avoiding CHANGE. I’m avoiding making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. I’m worried that it’ll be too hard to decide what to keep. And worst of all, what if I don’t like how I’ve arranged my shiny new space?
This is exactly how I often respond to God when He calls me.
When asked to create this space online I said yes, but I’m not good enough. Yes, Lord, I want to, but I can’t because I’m not equipped. Yes, but there are a million people in the world who can and are doing this very thing you want better than I ever could, why don’t you ask one of them? Yes, but not right now. Yes, but that sounds scary and hard and what if I fail? Yes, but I don’t like change so show me how you can keep my life exactly the same and still let me accomplish your will. Sound familiar?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told God yes, but… How many times have I locked myself into the upper room, like the disciples, scared to death of meeting some horrible or humiliating fate if I followed God’s plans?
I’m in a lovely study group with some amazing moms from my parish. At a recent meeting we were asked how we experienced the Holy Spirit. Was it like the fire in the upper room? A rush of wind? Or a tiny breath? I responded, “The Holy Spirit usually just slaps me in the face repeatedly.” Only now, I realize I am the one doing the slapping. The Holy Spirit has gently breathed on me and I use the guilt I feel over my disobedience as a battering ram. He sends loving reminders in the form of kind friends saying just the right words and I beat myself up because I am still saying “Yes, but….”
Instead of walking out of the room and soothing myself with some mindless social media scrolling I prayed.
“Come Holy Spirit”
And guess what? He showed up. He provided. I stepped out of that muggy upper room and let the Holy Spirit do the talking and my fingers do the typing. How liberating it is when I don’t have to make all the decisions. I’ll probably fall. I’m still scared that I don’t have everything figured out. Growing is usually painful, but I can be confident that I won’t be alone and that he is leading me to a place that will be better than any I could have imagined on my own.
Are you stuck in the upper room? Just ask for that little breath to guide you.
Come Holy Spirit.