I came to the end of my day today and felt frustrated. I was irritable from the chronic hormone issues I battle and the poor dietary choices I made today. What we put in our bodies has a huge impact on our mental and physical well-being. The more I pay attention, the more I see the connection in myself. I’m also about to go on a cross country trek to my home-state of Montana and that always comes with stress and angst. I didn’t do a very good job of paying attention to how all of these factors were impacting me today and I allowed my spiritual reserves to deplete more than I should have.
The tell-tale sign for me is if I don’t immediately start my day praying Lauds on my iBreviary app. If I get up without starting with prayer, my day is already off to a rocky start. I ended up spending my morning writing the last emails I plan to write for parish activities I am involved in until I get back from my trip in mid-July. I also wrote my Catholic Exchange piece that will publish tomorrow. I was productive, but by the time we were supposed to leave for daily Mass, I felt drained. I wasn’t as motivated as I usually am to get to Mass, but we went and it’s always a blessing once I get there, even if it’s a struggle initially.
After daily Mass, my day still didn’t correct. I got frustrated because I felt like I kept on making mistakes, especially in my communication with other people and I was ready for bed by 7:30 pm. A lot of the fatigue is hormonal, but I realized that I hadn’t focused enough on Christ throughout my day. I didn’t pray for guidance on certain matters and I didn’t prudently consider how to approach certain things. I was distracted and my attention was divided away from my daughter. Days like these I wish I could get a do-over and I often think that when I kiss my daughter good-night while she’s fast asleep before I crawl into my own bed.
We really do not fully know ourselves. We think we do, but in reality we don’t pay enough attention to completely understand ourselves. This includes our emotions, motives, thoughts, bodies, souls, and actions throughout the day. It took me deliberately considering everything that is impacting me right now to get to the bottom of how I felt by the evening. I try to emphasize the use of reason over emotions in making decisions, but today I was all over the map and my emotions took over by late afternoon. Like so many other women who battle debilitating hormone imbalances, there are times it is very difficult to control. Days like today, I probably could have controlled better with more focused prayer. This is not the case every time my body goes haywire–there are days I just have to endure it and offer it up to God–but today prayer would have helped a great deal.
In order to maintain some level of peace throughout my day, I have to constantly turn to Christ. I picture His Sacred Heart in my mind in order to draw myself into communion with Him at different points throughout my day. I didn’t do that today. I think I tried once, but then allowed my divided attention to win out. There was a huge difference in my day because I focused too much externally without making sure that my spiritual reserves were full.
Prayer teaches us about God, but it also teaches us about ourselves. It helps us to come to understand and know ourselves more fully. God reveals things to us about ourselves so that we can overcome our weaknesses and learn to rest in His peace even as the boat we are in is tossed about on the waves. If we don’t pray on any given day, then we don’t readily see when we need to change course. My lack of focus and inability to communicate effectively today should have been a sign to me that I was doing something wrong, namely not praying and focusing on Christ enough.
Daily Mass is an integral part of my spiritual life, but I need continual prayer throughout my day, even if it is a Hail Mary or Our Father for someone or a minute of two of focused mental visualization of Christ to re-align my day. In fact, the more I cling to the Sacraments and attempt to grow in holiness, the more I need frequent reception of the Sacraments and the more I see how much I need to pray. St. Paul’s call to pray without ceasing is much clearer and the threshold of what we need spiritually grows more demanding over time because we are focused on God.
It’s important for all of us to make sure our spiritual reserves are constantly being filled through prayer, study, and the Sacraments. The Church’s tradition of doing a nightly examen is also a good way to look at the successes and failures of any given day. This is one of the ways we prayerfully come to understand more about ourselves and where we need work while also giving us the opportunity to thank God for the blessings of each day.
Thankfully, by God’s grace I can begin again tomorrow. I will do what I always do after days or weeks like today, walk back into the Confessional. It’s Thursday so Confession is available at my parish tomorrow night. Deo gratias!