Thursday, April 17, 2008

Body, Mind, and Spirit

I'm trying to think of how I can write about health and happiness and how it's all wrapped up in our relationship with God ~ and not make it sound trite. You see, I need to write it more for myself than for anyone else, actually. So, how do I tell myself, in words that I will understand and take to heart, that

  • the packet of hot chocolate mix ~ with marshmallows ~
    that I stirred into my coffee this morning,
  • the 10 or 12 jelly fruit thingies I snitched when
    the kids
    weren't looking,
  • the extra two breadsticks ~ with butter ~
    that I had with dinner,
  • the scanty five minutes I spent reading a book
    with my toddlers today,
  • the uncorrected math papers lying on the school
  • the walk that I didn't take this morning
    even though I promised myself I would

coincide exactly with the fact that
  • I've spent more time on the computer today than I have reading from the stack of spiritual books on my bedside table.
  • I've been reciting the rosary of late. Reciting it. Not praying it with focus and attention.
  • The last really good talk I had with my Maker was .... Um, I can't remember when it was.
  • Anyway, you get the drift...

    I find myself periodically falling off the wagon for many different reasons. Which wagon? Pick your wagon: the always popular diet and exercise wagon, the organized homeschooler wagon, the attentive wife and mother wagon, the dutiful homemaker wagon, the child-of-God wagon...

    And I've had good reasons to fall off these wagons.
  • Too much stress
  • too much on my mind
  • The children keep me so busy...
  • I'm too tired
  • There aren't enough hours in the day
  • If my health were better...
  • If I had enough money...
  • If I had a little help around here...
  • My early life didn't prepare me for "it"*
  • My nerves can't take "it"
  • I'm not cut out for "it;" I 'm not that kind of person
  • "It's" not that big a deal; who's going to care anyway?
  • I know "it's" important, but I just can't tackle "it" now...
  • I just don't have any willpower
  • My whine du jour: I'm getting too old for this...
    * you name "it."
  • And sometimes these were valid excuses. Four babies in five and a half years gave me every reason to have a messy house in the first years of my marriage. Months of bedrest for pre-eclampsia twice in less than three years excused many bare bones months of homeschooling. I could even use a diseased knee as an excuse not to exercise for several years. Things happen. In order to handle one stressful part of our life, we often have to compensate by dropping the non-essentials. This is OK.

    • A perfectly clean house is not essential ~ it's nice, but not essential.
    • Meticulously organized plans and records, extracurriculars, and "brag points" are good things in homeschooling and in conventional schooling, but not essential
    • Loving your husband and children and fulfilling your duty toward them pleasantly is necessary, but being a modern hybrid of June Cleaver and Gina Lollabrigida is not necessary.
    • Being healthy and in control of your habits (like eating) is necessary, but being Denise Austin is not necessary.
    Though we tend to expect it of ourselves sometimes, we're not super human. There are some handles we do have to let go of. Wives and mothers tend to have a heckuva long train of wagons trailing behind them.
    That's the thing, isn't it?
    All those wagons we talk about falling off? We're not riding in them; we're pulling them! And when we lose our focus, or just give up on something, it's not that we're falling off wagons; it's that we've stopped pulling them. Sometimes we're just being lazy, and we usually know it. Sometimes we really do need to stop or slow down. And sometimes we're perfectly justified in saying, "Hey, wait a minute! Why am I pulling this one?"
    All except that last wagon I mentioned. You already jumped ahead of me to that, didn't you?
    We all know it. That child of God wagon. Dang, we want to be pulled in that wagon. I know I do. But there's no room for us to ride. By our prayers, our corporal and spiritual works, our practice of the virtues we can and do pull it. And darned if it's easy. But, God willing, there's no room in there for us to ride. That's where He piles the good stuff: our crosses and the graces that go with them, merit earned by prayers we've said, those gifts earned from the Sacraments and from our good works, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost...
    This is the wagon that holds the strength we need to pull all those other wagons. I only hurt myself by making excuses not to heave-to on my spiritual life. Everything else is so much more bearable when I know He's walking beside me.

    That's the whole point.

    When I'm pulling that child-of-God wagon, I'm keeping Him company. Christ walks beside me, regardless, but if we're keeping each other company, the journey is a whole different experience because I know He's there with me.

    Me and my wagons.
    Him and His cross.


    Goodwyf Allie said...

    I have had similar times, similar struggles. There never is an easy fix--and suffering is all well and good till you're in the middle of it--it sure doesn't FEEL good.

    If I were a real life friend (rather than virtual. . ) I would ask if we could pray and read the gospel togehter--then can we pack-up the kids and go for a walk? I'm itching to clean someone's fridge--can I attack yours? Oh--and here's a big salad and some whole wheat bread that I thought you'd like.

    We all need to be taken care of sometimes.

    God bless you!

    Dori said...

    This is such an inspiring and enlightening post. I'm so grateful that I stumbled upon your blog: there is so much I have learned from you and your writing!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    P.S. Your oldest sons are quite handsome. I'm allowed to say that, I'm only 17!

    Marie said...

    Wow, you are so right! I think that's the problem soooo many of us have, depending on someone else to pull the wagon so we can hop on and off at our leisure. But it doesn't work that way, does it? I think you definitely managed to make your point without being the least bit trite.

    Laura said...

    For the record, you are NEVER trite.

    Lisa said...

    Allie ~ Thank-you! You're so sweet; I feel as if I have had the good bread and salad and the walk just by the kindness of your words. You're right ~ Taking care of each other is part of the whole picture!

    Dori ~ It's so good to meet you! We had a geography lesson yesterday, because we happened chance upon our sitemeter map which shows where our readers are coming from ~ and we were delighted to see SOMEONE in Italy! And now we know who you are! &:o) How cool is that? Hello, and welcome! We're so glad make your acquaintance!

    Marie and Laura ~ Thank-you. I always worry about being either dorky or preachy... (There's nothing I hate worse!)

    Bia said...

    Okay. I really liked this post because you explained our many, many roles as mothers very well. I especially liked your child-of-God wagon analogy. Maybe we can think of that as the "chuck wagon" where we go for all our spiritual nourishment?!

    P.S. You are never dorky or preachy; instead, you are very insightful and wise.

    God bless!

    italiandori said...

    Thanks for the welcome! As you probably know, I've been "lurking" for quite some time now. I discovered your blog through Margaret in Minnesota, who is another one of my favorite bloggers. I'm Catholic and hope to be a mother someday, and I learn so much from these blogs. You guys are my role models!

    Muddy Mama said...

    Wow! You expressed that so well. I have been feeling those same things lately, but you put it into words so much better than I could have. Good job.

    Wendy said...

    What a beautiful post, Lisa!

    Lisa said...

    Bia ~ I like it ~ a chuck wagon, it is! &:o) Thanks so much for the real kindness in your praise ~ but, you know, the calm, assured wisdom of your voice on the internet is such an oasis for me. I feel sometimes like my brain is scattered to the ends like my hair was outside in the wind today. I try, but I know I fall far short of what He wants. I guess that's the human condition, huh? (Well, mine, anyway!)

    MM & Wendy ~ Thank-you so much! Now if I can only heed my own advice, you know?

    Dori ~ I love Margaret, too! &:o) I bet you knew that, having seen me over there. Isn't it funny the way the blog world works? We "pass" each other all the time, and only sometimes get to "meet." But, isn't it an amazing thing: our attention is drawn by ideas, and not by physical appearance, or whether someone looks "cool," or talk louder than everyone else (Though, actually, that does happen sometimes on here, doesn't it?). The blogosphere is an amazing "back fence" to meet over!

    btw~ I agree with you ~ Those boys of mine are a handsome bunch. But, then, I would think that, being their mom. They are a nice bunch, though, and that's even better. &:o)

    Blessings to you way over there in Italy! How I'd love to go there someday! It's on my short list, neck-and-neck with Ireland!