The hard wooden pew and its distinct lack of lumbar support begins to strain my lower back. I close my eyes and roll my neck side to side, trying to relax my mind and body enough to absorb the words of our parish priest.
My son sits half asleep on my lap. I lower my cheek to his head, taking in his warmth and wrapping my arms around him. I open my eyes and lift my head up, push my shoulders back, and try to sit up a little straighter. My son shifts his weight on my lap and rests the back of his head on my chest. The inspiring words of our priest have caught my attention. I listen to what he says and take heed of his words. His homily is uplifting and inspiring. I let the words he speaks and the message he is trying to convey wash over me, allowing them to seep into the safe haven of my soul. There they can be nurtured and protected. They spark inside of me and create a little flame that I will strive to keep shielded from the winds of life.
I know the lesson the priest teaches to be true. He takes what the gospel teaches and helps us to apply it to our own lives. He says we must prevent ourselves from allowing the distractions in this world to keep us from God. All that we do should help direct us towards Him. I listen to what he says and I reflect on it. It’s easy, sitting in that church and surrounded by a community of believers, to feel secure in my faith and my steadfastness as a Christian woman, mother, and wife. I feel hopeful and empowered. This is it. I am going to prioritize my life for Him.
But then, the week begins again. There’s work for my husband and me, school for the kids, piles of laundry to be washed, dried, and put away, soccer games, and a mile-long list of other responsibilities we must attend to. Doctor appointments and meetings fill our planner. We rush three kids out the door in the morning, eating breakfast in our cars on the way to work and school, and all the while hoping we have enough energy to make it through our day. By the time we get to work, it feels like we have already run a marathon and the day has barely begun.
When we get home in the afternoon, I throw some ingredients in a pan and pray that what comes out after a half hour on the stove bears a resemblance to a nutritious meal the kids will actually eat. Then there is homework to oversee, clothes to be washed, and dishes to be cleaned. The kids help with the chores, usually with a healthy dose of complaining, and they squeeze in some play time before they climb into the bathtub. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Every day looks much like the last.
And just like that, we’re lost.
We’ve allowed ourselves to get consumed by the beast that is our average week. We even forget to do bedtime prayers. Guilt hits me as I remember the powerful words of the priest from just a couple of days before. “All that we do should direct us towards God.” And we were so quick to fail.
Then, a glimmer of hope appears.
One night, after another long and exhausting day, I dragged my weary body up the stairs to tuck the kids in for bed. As I pushed opened the door to our daughters’ bedroom, I saw something beautiful. There, next to her bed, my oldest daughter was on her knees, with her hands folded in prayer, resting on her butterfly bedspread. Tears filled my eyes. Tears that spring forth when you see God at work in your life. Somewhere in the hustle of our lives, we’ve managed to set an example of faith for our children. Through the muck and mayhem of this world, my daughter has chosen to have a relationship with God. I can only think that we must be doing something right. Somehow, we just might be pointing our family in the right direction. That flame that sparked inside me as I listened to the priest’s words began to glow a little brighter. We may still have a lot of work to do to prioritize our lives, but it seems like we might just have a good start.
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