At the beginning of January, I kept coming across a phrase that bothered me.
"New year, new you!"
It seemed to be everywhere: on my favorite blogs, on websites, and even on the radio.
But how can a new year mean a new me? I know myself well enough to know it takes more than the changing of the calendar to transform myself, but it started me thinking.
And why do I really need to be a new me
How can I look at this year as an opportunity to live my vocation as a Catholic wife and mother more fully? Is that a call for a new me, or just a better me? And is "better" in God's eyes going to be "better" in everyone else's eyes? Who am I letting be my guide?
With the beginning of this short span of Ordinary Time before we dive into Lent, I can't help but think of the three pillars of Lent as a starting place: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
As I think about fasting, here are a few thoughts that came to mind. Is there a habit I need to change? Is there something I'm too attached to, something from which a little distance might give me better perspective?
When I think prayer, I can't help but ask, how do I talk to my Beloved? And when I say "beloved" about God, do I roll my eyes?
Where do I need balance in my life? How can prayer and fasting leading me closer to God by bringing me into balance with his will?
And then there's almsgiving. Who needs my generosity? How can my sharing and caring benefit others…and myself?
In my own life, I keep coming back to the importance of silence. Though I am surrounded, so often, by noise and chaos, I have a longing for silence.I need to set aside time and be mindful of how I spend the time I manage to set aside.
How do I create spaces of silence in the midst of the activity around me? Is there a place within me where I can pause and find calm? Can I stop—even for just a moment, even if it's in the bathroom— turn to God, and give him the busy in front of me, the stress around me, the churning inside of me?
I know I can't do this alone. A new me, a better me—these are not achievable apart from God's grace. But I also have to ask whether the me God wants is the same as what I have in mind? Living my vocation more fully may simply mean being present—really, intentionally present—to those in my life in the moment.
I'm not sure I need to be "new," or "better." I am pretty sure, though, that there is a lot of work left to do on me. This month, I'm going to focus on my prayer life.
Here are three things, specifically for my prayer life, that I'm going to try to put into play this month:
Starting the day with prayer
How I begin is often how I continue. Whether I have time for my full prayer regime or just a pause as I duck into the bathroom, I will start my day with turning to God. I have a number of ways I can do this (and so do you, I'll bet). If all else fails, I'll resort to my fallback Morning Offering: a Good Morning to God, thanking him for the gift of the day and giving him the problems ahead of me, followed by an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be.
A pause (or two) during the day to say Hi to God
This is easier typed than done, I assure you, but I find so many blessings when I do pause, just to close my eyes and pray a Hail Mary for whatever's on my heart. I've set my phone with alarms to go off at two points during the day, before the after-school and dinnertime activities take all my attention. Lately, I've gotten into the (bad) habit of just turning those alarms off, instead of actually pausing. I'm going to work on being intentional about those two pauses during my weekdays, to pray for myself or others who need my prayers.
Ending the day with God
And here we have my hardest challenge: night prayers. I'm a morning person. My evenings after the kids are in bed are usually comprised of reading on the couch and then collapsing into bed. Recently, our pastor shared how he got into the habit of night prayer, and I'm going to just try his suggestion: he put his prayer book on his bed stand so that when he took off his glasses, it was there, a physical reminder. I don't wear glasses, but I'm already thinking about how I can tap into my before-bed routine to incorporate a Good Night to God, one that encourages a spirit of gratefulness.