I'm incredibly grateful for my many distractions. Not only do I love the gazillion hobbies and pursuits I engage in, but eventually, they remind me that I'm a big scary mess. That kind of self knowledge is a great grace. When I dive into distraction, I eventually begin to neglect my duties and prayer. You all know what happens when I do that... I know you do because you sometimes do it, too. It's that concupiscence thing. Thank God for that moment when I start to feel unsettled. Lacking peace. Burdened with my failures. Dropping all the balls instead of keeping the important ones up in the air. Running, running, running, but never resting in the place to which I have been called.
I usually seek out distractions when I feel most like a failure, searching for some way to actually feel successful. I can craft, I can sew, I can type, I can get involved in ministry to help others, I can make phone calls to reach out, I can cook special things, I can plan for Christmas. But my true peace is dependent on those things which I tend to neglect in my search for the feeling of success and relief:
Prayer. This one is obvious. I either do it or I don't. Like breathing or not breathing. There are a million ways to open the heart and mind to our Lord. It just takes a small word to begin. When I find time to do the most inane and distracting things in life but neglect prayer, I couldn't have stronger evidence that I need a renewal.
Relationship. The person of Christ is present in all people in my life but my priority in the work of love is to those who reside in my home. Pope Francis gave us all a kick in the pants by asking "Do you play with your kids?" And when my Little Cub looks up at me with big eyes and asks in the sweetest voice ever Mommy, can you play with me? and I say no for the hundredth time that day... well, I know I'm not getting things right.
Busy is what it is. Everyone's busy. My busy is not special. If I can write a blog post and yet can't find the time to play with my son, then I'm mixed up. If I burn myself out during the day and have nothing left for my husband when he comes home, then I'm mixed up.
Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) exhaustion is unavoidable for moms. So if I'm tapped out, I've got to cancel events, put down distractions, let the multitude of details I covet fall aside. I'm like a 4-year old in that I never want to take a nap because I've got stuff I want to do... but who desperately needs one. I want to hang on to that thing in my hand for no other reason other than that I like it, even if it means I can't hold anything else. I want to cry and yell instead of finding the words to express my difficulty. I want someone to carry me even when it would burden them to do so. But I'm not a 4-year old and I cannot love my people well if I am exhausted, overcommitted, lazy, and self-focused.
Vocation. This work of prayer and relationship is not my job it is my vocation. It is the path to my salvation and joy and peace. and it was given to me for a purpose. If I blow it off by seeking out distractions that pull me away from it, I miss the pot of gold. Peace goes out the window. Joy goes. All that remains is ridiculous me on my little hamster wheel haulin' my lazy behind from one non-essential to another.
In Confession recently, a priest counseled me to have a hobby so that I can step away and come back to my family refreshed. I didn't tell him that I have 20 wholesome hobbies/distractions and that's probably why I can never be refreshed. But I loved the counsel because I was able to reflect on the goodness of his advice while recognizing that those distractions must stay in their place and not flood relationships. In order to "come back" to my family, I first have to create the appropriate time to step aside. Instead of constantly trying to run away from the failures and burdens I carry throughout the day, I can step aside for a moment... and regroup. Without guilt.
Again I'll say... Without guilt. If I enter into my vocation with commitment and purpose, knowing that I can take a break at a set time, then I will enter without distraction or guilt. I can also spend my time of leisure without guilt, knowing that the time is appointed to a great good and that I will return to my duties at the appropriate time. If I don't overcommit to others outside the home, I can also avoid the burden of failure that comes with any obligation to them when I cannot follow through.
Simplify and love expands. Deny ourselves to find ourselves. Become a nobody in order to be a somebody. The contradictions in our journey mirror the mystery of our faith and are summed up in the words: Beautiful Crucifix.
As we approach Advent, I'm going to apply the scissors to my distractions. It bums me out in a very human way because I love them all inordinately. But I am so tired and my available energy and time is very low during this post-partum period. I need to spend more time in the green house of my domestic church and regrow a passion for the essentials...
I thought our lifestyle was already pretty simplified but interiorly I keep persisting obstinately in frenetic busy. God is calling me back and I am ready to rest at His feet. Thank God for those distractions which throw me off... they are always reminding me that I am on the wrong track to sanctity. Isn't the liturgical year wonderful? Advent is coming and my heart is rejoicing...
Come, Lord Jesus!