A horrible, holy day
Wow, what a rotten Saturday I had! The weight of so many situations beyond my control really crushed my spirit. I started by oversleeping and missing my quiet time in prayer, a critical mistake! I rallied and hit the ground running (with no caffeine) and got Olivia to her soccer game (late and with only half a uniform). As I tried to focus on the 5-year-olds running around in circles on the field, my thoughts were on the rest of the trips and events of the day, trying to work it all out in my mind. As I get older, these crazy schedules really weigh on me more and more. After this game were more soccer games, a birthday party (requiring a gift), baseball, and a baccalaureate Mass later in the day. I usually avoid the mall like the plague, but when we need to get dressed for an event, it just has to happen. If only clothes and shoes for my children could just magically appear; yet one more reminder on a day like today of how much I miss my mom!
Next up was the never-ending battle with my children over technology. I swear their little devices have become enemy number one and it’s all-out war at times. A short time later, I was confronted with the sin of a loved one. It’s just so hard to watch how sin enslaves and at the same time watch the one who is enslaved crying for freedom. More weight on my spirit.
I couldn’t wait to get to Mass later that night, but even that was turning into a battle. The teenagers were excited for graduation the next day, but not about an optional Mass on their Saturday night. We insisted, and that’s putting it mildly… I was desperate for some peace in my heart. I went to get dressed (running late of course!) and lo and behold my go-to summer capris wouldn’t button. When did that happen?? How depressing. We made it to the Mass with all the younger ones, and we were even a few minutes early. I was hoping the graduate would actually show up and the 2-year-old wouldn’t run screaming to the altar at the consecration, but I was eager for the liturgy to begin. We piled into the pew behind friends who also have a large family, beautiful inside and out, completely put together with their graduate and all, and their littlest one sound asleep on Daddy like an angel-child. I didn’t really think I could feel more inadequate or more of a train wreck on this day. I was wrong. It was at that very moment that our youngest one ripped off her shoes and her pigtails and went tearing out of the pew, hair flying, to the back of the church, just as the Bishop was walking out of the sacristy. I’m pretty sure that my child taking out the Bishop before Mass would’ve been the last straw of the day for me. Thankfully, he good-naturedly chuckled and then got out of her way! I sat in my pew crying to the Lord, Why? Why, why, why, are my family and I such a hot mess?
My spirit felt crushed by my inadequacies and all that I could not overcome. I needed Holy Mass more than anything, but even being there, I was distracted by an unruly toddler, my late-to-Mass teens, and the general party vibe from the not-regular-mass-goers there. “Help me Lord!” Why can’t I be all these ideals I strive to be? Why did I fall into comparing myself to others when I know what a deadly road that is to walk? Why can’t I be without the sin and selfishness that made everything hard today? Why can’t I at least fit in my clothes? Why, why, a thousand whys?
And He gently answered my heart. If I were all these perfect things then I wouldn’t need Him. Oh, how I need Him! I do know that I need Him and I always want Him, but why all of this, all at once, nearly crushing me today? I do need you, Lord. I guess I can literally do nothing without You. I know that in my head, but today He allowed me to feel it. I am not sufficient in any single area of my life. I am sick, and the sick need a doctor.
“And then he broke the bread saying take this all of you and eat. For this is my body which will be given up for you.”
I felt Him reassuring me, ‘all the sin around you, all your own sin that you can’t overcome, I knew, I saw, I took care of that already.’
“Do this in memory of me.”
Daily, I need to remind myself how much I need Him and His sacrifice that happened on Calvary once for all. But so much more than that, I need Him physically again and again to fill me and to overcome all my human weakness, selfishness, and sin. The remembrance alone would never be enough for this fickle heart. Mere words and ritual could not penetrate through the totality of my mess and bring me to the humility I needed to be one with Him. Nothing but the sheer mystery, awe, wonder, and total faith required to believe that yes, Jesus Himself in His very flesh and blood, is bringing Himself to me again and again every day, could overcome my hot mess. He humbled Himself once to come into humanity, and He continues to humble Himself at the hands of men, His priests, so that He might nourish, heal, comfort, overcome, answer, and love. I by myself will never be enough and He knew it from the beginning, so He comes in many ways, but none so real as this.
“Behold, the lamb of God.” My King before me in the humblest form of bread, so simple even a child can receive Him.
Thank God for this horrible day. If there were nothing weighing on my spirit, would I know how much I need Him? Might I be willing to settle for some quiet time in prayer instead of making the effort or engaging in battle to get to Mass? Sometimes it’s enough to retreat in prayer and simply take refuge in Him, but what a gift and a treasure to be able to allow Him to take refuge in me.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)