This past lent I took on a difficult but worthy challenge. I was nervous to begin because the odds of me failing were very high. I tend to avoid things when I know I will fail. In this case however, I didn’t fail, I actually fell in love with a new habit and have carried it through to this day. This habit has offered special light in my life. Looking back and seeing where I started compared to now has given me more hope and faith than I can begin to express.
I challenged myself to praying a daily rosary. Up until this point I hadn’t even been praying at all. My prayer life was lacking and sporadic. I was terrified of committing to the rosary. What if I didn’t like it? What if it takes to long? What if it doesn’t really change anything in my life? All these fears ran rampant in my mind as the beginning of the 40 days approached. Somewhere, deep inside I just felt called to do this. I knew it would be beneficial even if I failed. I knew it would be a great habit to create for my life.
I was thrilled when I realized it only took 15-20 minutes to pray. I could totally do that. As I prayed, I tried to reflect on the mysteries, but more often than not my mind wandered to my to-do list. I found it difficult to focus and engage my mind and heart in the prayer. I began to retreat to my room during Cooper’s nap time and kneel down by my bed. I would close my eyes and struggle, trying desperately to pray with every ounce of my being. I didn’t feel like I was doing it right, but I showed up everyday and tried again.
Despite my best efforts, I know these prayers weren’t as strong as they could be. But, I also recognized that we all have to begin somewhere. My efforts were not lost with the help of Mary. I began to sense peace and strength. By the end of lent I felt inspired to begin this blog, and I was full of a new energy that I’d been missing for a while. I know this can’t all be chalked up to coincidence.
I’ve been praying the Rosary all this time. Some days are better than others. But, just yesterday I had a beautiful moment where I was able to release the strain of concentration and relax. It was as if I suddenly understood that I don’t need to try so hard, I just need to pray with love. I loosened up the grip and humbled myself. Pride told me that if I tried hard enough my prayers would be good enough. But God showed me that I can’t do it on my own. As I released the struggled focus, I felt a closeness I hadn’t yet experienced. I imagined I was in the presence of the Holy Family and it became easier to let go and enjoy their company. In that moment, I understood that prayer is simply spending time with those to whom you are praying.
I encourage you all to just begin. By doing that you are giving God permission to slowly work through you. He will open the doors. He will meet you beyond halfway and he will pull you through when you feel stuck. We can’t pray perfectly, but we can show up and spend time. I have learned that this relationship with God takes time to build. You will experience joy, and doubt, and everything in between. The best part is that we start by showing up and God will work in us as he pleases.
This new approach to prayer has transformed my time spent with God. I know this isn’t a new concept, but to know something and to understand fully are two different things. In God’s own time he showed me how to let go and enjoy his presence through prayer. I have no doubt that he will continue to open my eyes as long as I continue to show up.