Michelle Chandler: Mom, Wife and the Interior Life
Q: “I pray, but I have a wall. I don’t have time to slow down in my busy routine as I am responsible for my kids, husband, household and side job. To keep it all flowing I try to talk to God all day, but my prayers are schitzophrenic and I feel like my business is hardening me. Any advice on how I can stay connected authentically?”
A: Dear Friend,
Thank you for your question and for your seeking heart. I want to thank you, sincerely, because a longing for God is, in itself, a prayer.
I am a wife and mom of two. I relate to the challenge of finding quiet prayer time. I think we all do. About 18 years ago, though, I made some major life changes that have really helped me live with a deeper connection to God. I hope sharing a little here can help.
For many years, I felt so afraid of slowing down. By worldly standards, I was accomplishing goals and keeping it outwardly together. But inside, I built walls and braced myself for the twists and turns of life in self-preservation. Until, I couldn’t. I sought God’s help, learning how to pause, breathe, stretch and meditate. I searched for Him through many practices, until He led me to Catholicism, where I have found the deepest interior recollection. In prayer, and in the Sacraments I found an intimate friendship with Christ. And, this relationship has made all the difference in my life.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “We need to find God, and He can not be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.” God begs to be known by us, too. He thirsts for our friendship.
Living in such a fast paced world, we often reduce God to a far away entity that gets the left over time of our busy day. We have plenty to say to Him, and so much to ask for. But, little time to listen. The thing is, in humbling Himself to become a man; Jesus reminds us that we are invited to love Him as our best friend. And, friendship is a reciprocal dialogue – sharing and listening. In our best friendships, we share, listen, make sacrifices for one another, and remain faithful in good times and hard. I think we have to ask ourselves; what kind of friend am I to God? I am speaking to Him, but am I taking the time to listen? God who came down as man, who died for our sins, wants to be known by our loving Him in friendship. This is incredible to think about!
St Augustine said, “Lord you have made us for yourself, therefore our heart is restless until it rests in thee.” So how do we busy women find the time? We need to make it a priority, if we want to truly connect. Now that we are in Lent, it is a beautiful time to incorporate a practice or two that will help us journey toward closer union with His heart. Here are a few practical ideas…start perhaps with one, and then as you feel ready add another. It is possible that the things that needed to get done in your day, will get done, and the things that didn’t, somehow weren’t necessary to begin with.
- Start your day with 10 minutes of focused prayer.
- Incorporate a morning weekday Mass to your routine.
- Spend 30 minutes a week in Adoration.
- End your day with 10 minutes of focused prayer including an examination of conscience.
- Look for Jesus in disguise. How might He be showing up in your spouse, child, or co-worker?
- Read the Word and look for your life in the gospel:
For example, we can look to Mary and Joseph in the gospel of (Luke 2:48-49) when they went searching for Jesus for three days while He remained behind in the temple with the priests and scribes. Mary asks, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Jesus replies, “Why were you looking for me? Did you knot know that I must be about my Father’s work?”
Sometimes in our full lives, we can go about looking for Him frantically, when He is right here, going about loving us, in the tabernacles of our churches and our hearts, in our children and spouses. When we find Jesus in the souls in front of us and in all the little things, we can take a moment to see Him and give thanks.
- Look for miracles. They are everywhere. Clare of Assisi said, “We become what we think about.” Thinking about the miracles in our lives, helps us to be connected to God. And, possibly to become for a day, someone else’s miracle.
- Keep a few granola bars in the car to hand out the homeless man you drive by on the corner. Ask him or her their name. That smile is a direct connection to God.
- Consider that by taking time to rest with Him, He will rest in us, and in turn be the One to keep it all flowing.
- Finally, try to be merciful to yourself, as God is merciful to you. Laugh at and with yourself as often as you can. This will be a great gift to you, to God and to others.
Your journey toward closer union with God, is a journey of friendship. And, in this friendship is the Kingdom of God. How blessed I feel to have to be in the company of yours!
Your friend in Christ,
Michelle Chandler is a mother, wife, and Catholic woman with a deep love for our Lord. She resides in Southern California.