Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quiet Time And Grace

I signed up for `Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever' series again this year. It's a really great program that shows up in my inbox every day that consists of one very short video by Matthew Kelly(about 4 min) and an even shorter video by someone on his staff(about 1 min) on a different topic every day during Lent.

Today's topic was about learning to love and see the benefits from fitting in at least one daily Mass every week. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with and that I have tried to do for many years during all of the different seasons of my parenting life.

I love going to daily Mass,,,,even with squirmy toddlers and squak-y babies.... because of the peace that I feel while I'm there. One particular period of time popped into my head in particular...

When Peter was diagnosed with Autism at 27 months, it was very challenging. We were reeling emotionally from the diagnosis and afraid for what it would mean for Peter and for our family. I began obsessively reading everything I could get my hands on, trying to figure out how we could help him. He had therapy through Early Intervention, a program that he went to a couple of times a week, a special diet we put him on that made a big difference, new doctors, ABA therapy at home, and far away doctor appointments that specialized in different types of therapy...just.so.much. All the while, we were looking for the "smoking bullet" that could possibly "cure" our little boy. I was terrified I would miss something!

Just prior to, and during, this second hardest trial in our married life(the first being the loss of our daughter Therese), I found solace in a Wednesday evening Mass that was my quiet time, (and my life line), at a Parish the next town over. The demands of a special needs, very difficult child, plus a 6 month old, 4 yo, 7 yo, 8 yo,and 10 yo were great! My heart was heavy, the sleep deprivation was rough, and my burn out was intense.

The 15 minute ride to and from the Mass, and the small, intimate Mass itself, was a silent oasis that my broken spirit was desperate for. I clung to God in that silence like a drowning person clings to their flotation device in the midst of a terrible storm. There were lots of tears shed and lots of pleas for help on those Wednesday nights. Lots of days when I felt I couldn't give one more ounce of myself because there was nothing left to give. Somehow, even on the nights that I drove home really, really slowly because I dreaded another sleepless night and children's needs that I felt no ability to fill, God gave me the grace to do what needed to be done.

I'm grateful for the graces that Wednesday night Mass gave to me in that season of life.  It was a place of peace in my emotional and physical unrest, a place to let my grief out, a place to let my fears out, a place to find God and try to wrap my head around the fact that no matter how out of control life felt, God was in control. It took almost a year, but I know that the graces I received in that quiet time helped me to come to a place where I realized and accepted that I couldn't live in a manic way, trying to "cure" Peter. I couldn't spend 95% of my energy on just one of my children while everyone else got the leftovers. I had to allow myself to accept Peter for who he was and grieve for the Peter that I thought he would be. Mostly, I had to believe that God loves Peter more than I ever could, and that He would provide what Peter needed as long as I did my part. God gave me the grace to stop trying to do my job AND His job...which was good because I was definitely doing it poorly!

I still made lots of mistakes along the way during those early years of Peter's diagnosis. Mostly because I didn't reach out and ask for more help or try to find more help that we really needed. I'm sure there were people that God would have provided if I had only looked for them.

Sometimes, God doesn't want us to be Wonder Women...especially when we are feeling like we're emotionally held together with duct tape! It's a tough lesson to learn...

If you ever find yourself feeling like you're life is falling apart in some way or if you have nothing left to give, spend some quiet time with God and ask Him to give you the grace for the help you need....even if that means humbling yourself and reaching out to family, friends, or someone else God will place in your life. You're worth the 30 minutes of quiet time no matter how crazy your schedule is....and the benefits of peace, hope and guidance are priceless!


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