Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
Two Sundays ago, I made a promise to God.
“Lord,” I said. “I’m going to give up eating chocolate chips for you. I know I eat them when I’m stressed and I know that I need to turn to you instead. Maybe you’re trying to speak to me but I can’t hear you over the chocolate chip crunching sound in my ears. Lord, I’m going to give up eating chocolate chips for you.”
Now I don’t about you but when I make extra sacrifices for God, I sometimes envision that He will shower fabulous things on me every day. Maybe all the kids will nap at the same time. Maybe my husband will come home early from work. Maybe I’ll have a joyful feeling like sunshine inside my heart!
So it was with great anticipation that I woke up on Monday: day one of no chocolate chips, thinking today is going to be awesome! Approximately 45 minutes later, my five year old threw up on me. I won’t add details to this story or the ensuing flu related things that happened for the whole rest of the day… but it was bad.
I resisted the urge to eat chocolate chips at naptime though a voice in my head practically screamed, “You really deserve them today!”
Tuesday, in the late afternoon, after being cooped up in the house for almost two whole days with three small children, we decided to go for a walk around the block. The sun was shining and my two year old asked so nicely that even though I didn’t want to go outside (because I’m a really lazy mom) I thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna be an awesome mom and I’m going to take them all for a walk!”
It’s true we were only going around the block and even though it’s a big block, it wasn’t an epically long walk. Still, both my two year old AND my five year old managed to trip on their own feet and smash their faces in the concrete emerging bloody and screaming. Thankfully there were no broken teeth but pretty banged up hands and faces and lots of crying all the way home.
Thanks for nothing! Why do I even bother going outside? Why is it that when I try to be a “GOOD MOM” it always goes wrong and I wish I hadn’t even tried?
I experienced plenty of negative self-talk that afternoon but I did not, no I did not… turn to the glorious, melt-in-your mouth dark chocolate chips in my cupboard.
Come Wednesday, everyone was feeling better and then BOOM, I got my period. I’m on some weird postpartum, breastfeeding cycles so it comes around every 45 days. And I’m not sure medically what’s going on but when my period finally does come, it’s a WHOPPER. Ladies, I was down. I was in bed, tears, cramping… it was awful.
Then finally on Friday, my husband and I got some bad news about the business we’re trying to buy. We had lined up financing and everything was humming along well when one of the banks we were working with said that they misfiled our paperwork and it’d take an extra three weeks to close. This was a big blow because it means we can’t officially buy the business, or start working on it until three weeks later than we had expected.
And in the end, none of these things are really that big of a deal. None of them were life or death. These are just average things that pop up in any given week. Yes, it was a particularly yucky week but at the end of it, I realized I was mostly upset by my lack of control.
I couldn’t stop my girls from getting scraped up on the sidewalk. That’s just part of childhood. I couldn’t stop my period for coming. I’m blessed to still have my fertility. Yes, we had a pukey day but it was only one day. Some illnesses last for a lifetime. Our new chapter as business owners is going to start later than we thought, but we can move a few things around and deal with this change.
I think we have this illusion that we have any sort of control over our lives. It’s why we get so ruffled when unexpected things happen. We feel like we’re spinning out of control. But even that phrase suggests that we actually had control at some point. But the truth is, we never do.
God is in control. He gives and He takes away and both those things can happen at any time. The most unexpected joy and pain can come into our lives at any moment. And we may think we have a solution. We may have come up with ways to cope. But any way that is based on Christ or our great Catholic faith, will ultimately fail us.
Chocolate chips won’t bring me lasting peace. Numbing myself with television won’t change my To Do list in the morning. Buying new clothes, compulsively acquiring new books when I haven’t read the ones I have, even looking for new homeschooling curriculum can be a way of distracting myself and not coping with my life.
There is no way except Christ. He is the only path to finding true peace. If you must have control over something, have control over your relationship with Him. Pray more. Read your bible more. Go to Mass more. Confess your sins. Ask for forgiveness. Pray even more.
When I was going through this awful week, I kept thinking that the devil must have heard my promise to God and done everything in his power to make my break my promise. You see, he hates it when we turn our attention to God and give Him all our good works. So it made sense to me that the devil would up his game and try to distract me and trick me into thinking that I really did DESERVE those chocolate chips.
Then I thought about God and all the times in the bible that He tests people’s love for Him. Do you love me now?
He takes and takes and takes away things that we love and still asks, “Do you love me now?”
Eventually I got to the place where I realized that whether or not this awful and strange week was the devil trying to trick me or God testing me… my response would be the same. My promise would be upheld, my eyes would be fixed on Christ. That was the point of my whole “kick this chocolate chip habit” anyway. I wanted to feel the real pain of worldly anxiety and to give it up to Jesus.
If you’re struggling to let go of your worldly stress relievers, I recommend spending more time with God. Here are some ways to do that.
- Sign-up for Matthew Kelly’s Best Lent Ever
- Register for the Pray More Retreat
- Go through the 31 Days to Become a Bible Reading Catholic program
- Pick an hour each week that you will dedicate to Adoration. Go sign up officially for that hour at your church office.
I’m praying for you to have a great week that draws you closer to Christ. Sometimes that means a week full of sunshine and sometimes it means being challenged in ways you hadn’t thought of yet 😉