Wrestling with my unruly heart

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I wrestle with time every day, with the fact that after several hours of necessary sleep, there are only limited hours in the day, with a good deal of those going to things like meal preparation and cleaning up, driving around, showering, dressing and a host of other mundane things.

Since that is what simply has to be done, and also what I’ve freely chosen to do in marrying and raising a young family with my husband, I should be content knowing it’s God’s will.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

It’s just where I am right now, in this season of family life which is dominated by the high-needs of very small people. Simple, right?

There’s every reason for me to end every night very happy if we’ve been able to provide three decent meals to our children, and all have been bathed and teeth brushed, had clean clothes to wear and smiles on their faces.

If there was room for anything else, then great, if not, then there’s no need to get all banged up about it.

I tell myself this, and my husband tells me this, but my unruly uncentred heart keeps trying to squeeze more out of my days and getting frustrated when 10pm rolls around again and I have got ‘nothing done’.

Lile Eve in the garden of Eden, I have everything I need and more, but I always want still more.

In my case, the ‘more’ most pressingly and distressingly translates to hours. I’ve spoken to enough mothers with older children to know that this sinking sense of never having enough time will not disappear once all my children are in school.

I will probably just keep trying to cram more in than can fit a 24-hour day and continue to getting frustrated when I can’t

I know it’s not really time I’m wrestling with, but myself, of course. And maybe God.

It’s a kind of greed, and pride, this rapacious need to fill myself with an arbitrary sense of accomplishment each day, this need to impress with the things I could do – not God, but others and, ultimately, myself.

I suspect I’m not the only woman with a small, stubborn and deadly need to feed myself daily, not on the Word and the sacrament, but on the satisfaction I can gain from my own efforts, even efforts cloaked as deeds for others.

As a remedy I’ve been trying to live the Practice of the Presence of God, which you can read about in the classic book of the same name by Br Lawrence, a member of the
Carmelite order.

What we mean by living in God’s presence, or the practice of the presence of God, is developing the habit of being aware of our own presence before the all-seeing,
all-knowing, and all-loving God.

And then, once aware, to accept that everything that happens is something that God wants or allows to happen, and try to respond out of that acceptance.

When I try this I have moments when it goes well, but most often instead of living in the presence of God I keep trying to be God.

I keep running around ordering things to happen in the closed-up little universe of my life.

And then it’s no wonder when I become burnt out, and find living – i.e. the simple getting up and going about what I have to do each day – becoming more difficult than necessary.

“Come to me,” says Jesus then, “you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest for your soul.”

No recriminations, no lecturing, no “I told you so”. Just mercy with no questions asked. Infinitely more merciful than I would be with myself, or anyone else, who fell repeatedly into the same nonsense.

Thank God I am not God.