There are times when we must truly confront ourselves and ask serious questions of ourselves and God. I found myself doing that a bit ago as I sat on my bedroom floor trying to sort out some decisions that I need to make about how to proceed in certain areas of my life. I’m constantly asking God if I am doing what He is asking of me and to show me where I am failing or misunderstanding. I fail frequently. I fall into temptation all too easily and I take my eyes off of Him much to often. It’s easy to do. We are all amazing masters of self-deception. A friend and I decided self-deception is our super-power or at least something we are super at.
My daughter and I have hit a brick wall when it comes to homeschooling. She is extremely stubborn and strong-willed, which she comes by honestly. We fight daily in school, chores, daily Mass, you name it, chances are we are struggling through a battle of wills. It’s exhausting and demoralizing for both of us. It’s the two of us day-in-and-day out locking horns and this is not the path I want for either of us us. Not only is it an impediment to our relationship that could eventually cause long-term harm, it is a spiritual impediment for both of us. It is a major source of discord and unrest in our home. I frequently pray for peace in our home.
She is also terribly lonely. For the last four years her best friend has lived next door. This has lessened the grief she carries from losing four siblings in miscarriage, something that she talks about almost daily right now. That longing for companionship and connection with other kids her age was fulfilled through that friendship. It has now changed considerably and we only see her friend at soccer for reasons largely outside of my control.
I’ve been praying for new female friends her age for her. In our homeschool Coop and our circle of friends the children close to her age are all boys and while those friendships are fine and good–I’ve had close male friends since childhood–girls need girls and boys need boys in friendship. She’s spent today building science experiments and creating her own costumes, but most days she is sad and dejected. School is like pulling teeth and she repeatedly tells me she hates school.
I finally had to admit that change is needed and that change is she needs to go to school. For me, public school isn’t an option. Things have deteriorated considerably since I was in public school. I briefly taught in public school and there are aspects of the culture both within the teachers and the students that I don’t want my daughter around at this age. There are good public schools, but it’s never been an option for us. Instead we had to enroll her in the very costly local Catholic school, which will come with its own challenges. We can always return to homeschooling in the future, but for right now, Catholic school is the best option for her.
She was able to visit the school for an entire day. She met her future classmates and her teacher. At the end of the day when I picked her up, she was beyond excited to start school there and wanted to know when she could start. Every single day since her visit she has been asking me when she can start. This coming Tuesday is her first official day in the school.
There are times God calls us to make major changes that we never expected. My plan–that seems laughable now–was to homeschool her through her senior year of high school. She would have been enrolled for online classes for those subjects such as higher level Math that I can’t teach her. That’s how I always imagined the next decade of our lives. But now the path before me is darkened and I don’t know what God is asking of me personally other than to let go and put her in school. That I’ve done, but the next phase of my life is still obscured from my view. I now have many hours of the day to fill. Reading, prayer, and writing will be tasks to fill the time while I wait for God to reveal His will for me.
I’m thankful that I homeschooled her for three years. She needed that time being close to home. She needed to be with us while my husband was deathly ill last year. Now she is ready to go to class with other students and walk a bit more on her own. And I have a Master’s degree that I need to figure out how to use in order to help pay for her tuition. It’s been a major lesson in obedience. God hasn’t shown me the path. He’s only shown me what I am supposed to do right now in this moment. I must simply assent and do it.
He gives me smaller tasks in obedience that teach me to not ask so many questions and just do. God is pure act and our response is also meant to be action grounded in charity. Our Heavenly Mother makes haste in her responses to God. We are meant to do the same thing when His will becomes clear to us. Yesterday he asked me to do something small by giving away the final two relics in my care quite literally after I wrote about those relics on Thursday. It came as a clear directive out of nowhere in prayer–no, not a locution–and rather than ask why, I was to simply do it. It was identical to when I was asked to give away guardianship of the first class relic of St. Monica that I had requested guardianship of for myself. I expected that I would pass that relic onto my daughter one day.
In the end those relics are destined to be venerated by more of the faithful than they would be in our home. The timing of the request made little sense to me since it hadn’t been asked of me up to that point, but I knew quite clearly that I was to simply obey. It’s a small lesson in the middle of this massive life change that I am undergoing. I’m simply to do what is asked of me and wait.
In fact, if there is one word that would sum up my spiritual life this year it would be obedience. I ask too many questions. It’s one of the hazards of possessing the extremely quick, analytical, and questioning mind that God gave me. I want to know why. I want to understand things that happen to me that I simply do not understand. I’ve had spiritual experiences this year that are nothing short of extraordinary, but I keep wanting to know why and the minute I ask everything evaporates and what can only be seen through the eyes of faith is veiled. St. Therese alludes to this reality in The Story of a Soul.
If we grasp and constantly seek the why, then the gifts God gives to us often slip between our fingers. At times, even verbalizing them can cause them to quickly slip away. We can only receive and be open to such gifts. We won’t always get to know the why or the how. And for someone who asks why a lot, obedience, acceptance, and receiving without grasping are essential spiritual lessons. I can’t progress spiritually until I understand that if I want to truly see the world and others with the eyes of Christ, then I have to let go and accept that much of this life is shrouded in mystery, including what God has in store for me in the coming months and years. I am simply to do what God asks of me, which is to respond in love.