Last week we celebrated the Forty Hours of Exposition at my home parish. For those of you who are not aware of what that is, here is a simple explanation: For forty continuous hours, the Eucharist, Host, or Body of Christ – whichever term is more familiar to you – is on display at the church. During this time, people come to spend an hour in the presence of the Lord, sitting in quiet, contemplative prayer. A deeper explanation can be found on the Catholic Education Resource Center website.
I experienced my first Forty Hours last Friday, and I was amazed at how present I felt during that time. The peace and stillness that emanated throughout the massive, frigid church were humbling; I felt it deep within. With every breath, I gave thanks to the Lord for my family, our health, and the innumerable blessings he has bestowed upon us. During this time, I also found myself begging God for clarity. See, I am at a crossroads; I have been at one for what feels like a lifetime. The vocation I was destined for – that longing God gave me for a specific career – has been suffocating for too long. Despite working towards making writing a priority, it is still taking a backseat to everything else that is present in my life. So here I found myself alone with God; the perfect opportunity to ask him to help me see beyond what my eyes have been able to show me. I asked – no – implored him, to open my eyes to what he wants for my life. Why? Because something is still missing.
I don’t want to merely exist, I want to thrive. I am blessed with two beautiful sons, an incredible husband, loving family, and everything else we could ever need, but I know in my heart, that I am being pulled and tugged in too many directions, none of which afford me the opportunity to do what I love to do – write. I started this blog as my commitment to writing. I figured, if I have a blog, then I can hold myself accountable. I should be writing every day, at the very least every week, but more accurately, I write a few times a month. I find myself consumed with the affairs of the children, submitting to the needs of my husband and his career aspirations, and working two part-time jobs, neither of which allow me to be whom I presume God wants me to be – a writer.
I went back to work after my husband made a significant career change. Part of it was because I know it will take time for him to work his way up the ladder, but the other part was because being home with two children all day had me going mad. I had to put them in preschool, or I was going to lose my mind. I wanted so badly to believe that I fit the part of the stay-at-home mom who kept her house sparkling and homeschooled her children, but that was not me. It is not me. Every so often, I find myself wishing I could go back to being home with the kids, but then I remember why I am not. Don’t misunderstand me, please, I adore my children, in fact, I want more, the desire to be a mother is still one of my greatest, but I am an introvert and my home is my sanctuary, therefore, being a hermit crab and taking care of two rambunctious boys with enough energy to tear down a building was not a suitable combination. I function best when I can balance the chaos in my life with peace and calm, words counter-intuitive to being home with two boys. My house was a perpetual mess of toys, screams permeated the walls, and my joy and sanity were slowly disappearing. No matter how hard I worked to keep the house in order, it took little to no time for the boys to turn it upside down. I was wearing myself down, so I went to a psychologist for help. “Not every mother is meant to be a stay-at-home mom. And that’s OK, ” she insisted. I felt like a failure. How could I, the very person who always said I didn’t need a career to be fulfilled, be failing at what I wanted so badly in life – to be home with my kids?
I came to the harsh realization that life is ever-evolving and that our needs and wants don’t remain stagnant. Perhaps once upon a time, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, the perfect Stepford Wife – I wrote about that desire in an old blog I used to have – but that isn’t me anymore. I grew up, I evolved. The thirty-year-old me has different needs than the 24-year-old me, or the thirteen-year-old me who wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. So I asked God to help me see what he wants for me and my life. In a perfect world, things would fall somewhere in the middle. My kids are growing up, they started school, and at least with that I have some time to be home alone; to write, to clean, to practice my daily yoga, in tranquility, so that I can be a better mother and wife when the kids and husband come home in the afternoon. That is what I believe God wants for my life because that is what I want for my life. The desires of the heart are placed there by God so that we can pursue them, aren’t they?
Whatever the answer, I am still a work in progress. Aren’t we all?