*This is the fourth in a series of posts on Lenten Prayer Practices.
I am not a monk; I am a disciple, and a rather distracted one at that. But I do have an advantage over Jesus’ disciples: I’ve got stories of their failures and lapses of intelligence to make me feel better.
Remember when I said that committing to anything other than breathing for 40 days would be pretty miraculous? That I would fail? Well, I did, like I knew I would. No miracles here. Did I set myself up with a self-fulfilling prophesy? No. I just finally know who I am.
Thankfully God doesn’t expect us to get it all right all of the time. Just consider the biblical anti-heroes God called into heroic action. They were human, too.
I also said this: Anything is better than nothing. Four days, four hours, even four minutes, are better than zero.
I had the intention. I was inspired, and I tried to inspire you. And then life happened.
Spring break. In Michigan. With a Labrador-hound pup. Oh, rapturous joy.
I’ve been too distracted to notice any poignant God moments. With a big, stubborn, fur baby klutzing around the house, I’ve all but forgotten how to breathe. And I’m sorry, but I simply could not see any divine poetry in the mud being continuously tracked into my house. I wasn’t singing or composing any praises last week. In fact, I did a lot of cursing.
To quote popular Momastery blogger Glennon Doyle Melton, motherhood is “brutiful.” There is nothing quite so fulfilling for many women, but it’s also the hardest thing we’ll ever encounter. And I like to think it’s even harder for introverts like me. It requires more extroversion than we naturally contain, and that exhausts us. It’s a noisy, inconsiderate invasion of privacy. Motherhood thwarts peaceful reflection and beckons uglier, harder truths. It shows you who you are, especially the darker parts you’d rather not own, with its uncanny way of calling out each one of your weaknesses. (Emelia, my youngest, actually used to say ‘Nammit.’ It was precious, and completely my fault.)
How could I not cry out, like the psalmists, feeling so assaulted?
You’ve probably heard about the stereo-typically fleeting Irish temper, but I assure you there is a more formidably begrudging German temper. My children are all little temperamental hybrids, but I reign supreme.
It seems more often than not that I find God in my anger. We have many passionate, one-sided discussions, and depending on the particular valley or mountain, it may be the only type of dialogue we have for a good while. But it’s still a conversation. And it’s not usually well-articulated. It’s as quiet and brooding as it is loud and distracting. It’s messy. It’s real. God doesn’t shut me out, like I try to shut out the world. God keeps poking at me, stoking the fire, until it eventually burns out.
But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was actually more good than bad. The pup had his pick of playmates, human and canine, thanks to my neighbor’s family. My niece came over for some play time, and I got to sit down and catch up with my brother- and sister-in-law. The kids went crazy at Rebounderz for the first time. And I served ice cream and cake for breakfast one morning. Yahtzee!
Somehow the bad always feels so much bigger than it really is.
In the midst of these darker moments, I came across some small things I so often take for granted: uninterrupted showers; a warm, quiet brunch; how nice it is to laze around in jammies half the day; how well-behaved my children really are in public places; how much I love sunshine; and writing, oh, my beloved writing…
So, lay it all out. Be real. Don’t hide the mess. God can handle it, whatever it is. Nothing is too ugly or heavy or harsh. God won’t shy away from any word that moves your lips or weighs on your soul. Have your anger, feel every frustration, and give it to God, too. And hopefully, afterwards, you’ll catch glimpses of your peaceful place, until you can bask in it again.