I am having one of those days in Motherhood and as a Christian when “I do the very thing I hate” to quote Saint Paul. I have allowed little things and my own failures drag me down. That is what the Devil wants. He would rather I wallow in self-pity rather than ask The Lord for the strength to keep moving forward.
I was watching Fr. Barron’s Catholicism series on prayer (episode 9) yesterday. We own it thanks to my parents and their generous Christmas gift last year. I pull it out a few times a year and watch an episode. My daughter even knows who Fr. Barron is and watched part of it with me. She would point to the screen and say “We watch Fr. Barron”. I was so proud. Anyway, I digressed a bit there. In the episode on prayer, he talks about St. John of the Cross, that great mystic. St. John of the Cross tells us that we must free ourselves from those things that enslave us so that we can be filled up by God. He calls this process of emptying the dark night of the senses and then the dark night of the soul. Both order us properly to God. I don’t know about you, but I am in major need of proper ordering.
It got me thinking about how right now, I really need to work towards conquering my sensual addictions: mainly food and coffee. I have lacked discipline in this regard since I left the Navy. I am getting older and eating poorly impacts me physically, mentally, and spiritually. Food and coffee are meant to be enjoyed. They are gifts from God. However, they are not supposed to enslave us. When we say we “need” something every single day, we are enslaved by the thing, rather than being the master. That is the point of Temperance. We can enjoy something as it is, but we can take it or leave it. We do not have to have it. We can enjoy it in the moment and then move on.
So, I have decided to embark on a journey through battling those things that I am physically addicted to: bread, sugar, coffee. It is not going to be fun. I will have a caffeine headache for a few days and crave sugar like crazy. When I get up at 5am this coming Saturday to go to my Lay Dominican meeting I will really want a cup of coffee, or two. This will be much harder than when I gave up Facebook. But, the question I must start asking myself is: does this make me a saint? Does overeating make me a saint? No. Is not eating right good for my family? No. It’s not about me! I am still trying to drill that into my psyche.
When I don’t take care of myself, I end up in a cycle of self-loathing, which I then take out on my husband and daughter. My husband can tell when I feel like a failure because I have a short temper. The process of holiness is not about self-pity. We should see our failings and then fall on God’s love and mercy, praying for help and grace. On days I fall short, I have tendency to let it get the better of me until I drag myself back to Confession. Like Father told me in Confession this past Saturday, holiness is a one step at a time process. It does not happen overnight.
So say a prayer for me as I embark on a dark night of the senses. Are there areas in your life that you need to free yourself from so that you can be more open to God?