Jennifer has a thought-provoking reflection on Lent and what happens when illness throws a wrench in your plans:
I spent a while dwelling on how this illness has completely inhibited my spiritual progress: my big vision of having an extra prayerful experience at Ash Wednesday Mass, to get up early to pray the Rosary, to go with good Catholic friends to a Knights of Columbus Friday fish fry—all wonderful plans that did not come to pass. I’ve felt so rotten I’ve barely even been able to remember to say a few prayers here and there.
But as I listened to this internal dialogue something jumped out at me: it’s all about me being in control, about my plans. And as I thought back over the past couple of years, I realized that, in general, I have always expected to grow closer to God on my terms. I want a sign that fits my requirements at the time and place of my choosing; I want my first Adoration experience to be powerful so that I’m easily motivated to go more often; I want this final Lent before I enter the Church to deepen my faith according to the schedule laid out on my calendar, starting with a stirring Ash Wednesday Mass and ending with a movie-quality Easter Vigil experience. And when things don’t happen in the manner, time and place of my choosing, I promptly resign myself to frustration and despair.
I have never, I realized, been able to let go and trust in God.
Oh boy have I been there before. Wanting to be in control. Wanting to do it on my own terms. Making all these decisions about how things are going to be without stopping to ask God for his input. And giving up when things seemed too much. Last Lent I was pregnant, unable to fast and so tired all the time so that whenever I sat down to pray, I ended up sound asleep.
I sometimes feel like I’ve spent the last two years backsliding. In the year before I was married I went to mass every day. I had the best Lent ever full of daily mass, stations of the cross, hardcore fasting, spiritual reading. And then pregnant and a blob of laziness. And this Lent started off bad, pregnant and nursing and dealing with an infant who doesn’t believe in sleep. And got worse. I’m still trying to decide now just what my Lenten sacrifices should be. While struggling with the desire to eat all the foods that I couldn’t eat while pregnant.
Anyway, go read all of what Jen had to say. Because the only conclusion I come to from my reflections on my experiences is that I’m a mess. But she inspires me to stop, listen, and move forward instead of wallowing.