I promise this isn’t another reflection on the difficulties of real estate or the minor aches and pains of pregnancy. Pinky swear.
I’m coming out of the fog of what has been a spiritually (among other things) difficult season, and I’m just starting to want to even pray again, so I’m no expert on spiritual growth or perseverance, but I’ve noticed some things that I’ve found helpful and perhaps worthy of further reflection.
First, I’ve never in my mature, adult Christian life been tempted to just skip Sunday Mass. I’ve always been mildly scandalized by the notion, and probably indulged in a little bit of scrupulosity over sick children or a sick self keeping me home on Sundays past.
No more. I get it now, what it’s like to feel alienated (or apathetic) enough towards God that the thought of sitting though an hour of liturgy on Sunday morning leaves me cold. If not for the good ‘ol Sunday obligation and a husband of faith, I would have stayed home in bed and felt only mild reproach. Some of this I attribute to the depression making me feel less “myself” and some of it to plain old fashioned temper tantruming towards a God who wasn’t listing, didn’t care. That’s what it felt like anyway. I’m glad my experience of worship isn’t purely subjective, that something objectively “other” to me is happing up on that altar, and that the Church requires me to bend my knee in worship even when my heart and my brain are like DON’T CARE.
The Eucharist is still there, whether or not I feel like worshipping.
Which brings me to my next point: Adoration. And how glad I am it exists, that even when I can’t feel or hear or see God, I can literally go plop myself down in a pew in front of Him and look at God. That is such a profound gift. And so reasonable and human, like He would know that we would need the tangible gift of His presence to keep us going, and that we’d be too weak and fainthearted to do it without Him.
He’s not wrong. So off I’ve dragged myself to the adoration chapel, sitting fidgety in a chair for 15 or 30 minutes of relatively passive sunbathing, knowing that whether or not I feel His presence, He is present. It’s a complete intellectual exercise at some points, but I’m glad to have that tangible something to “do” when talking to Him feels ridiculous and I’d rather not, frankly,
Which leads me to: the Rosary. If ever there was a prayer for “I have nothing to say to you God and You’re not listening, anyway and I don’t feel like pretending,” it’s the rosary. A trip through the gospels from memory, no heavy thinking or feeling required. Sometimes the rosary gets a bad rap for being “rote prayer,” but when I’m not feeling particularly prayerful I’m sure glad to have something from heart memorized to lift my mind and heart to heaven, particularly when I’m feeling rather earthbound. The rosary is another great “I don’t feel it, but something is happening” reality, since Mary pretty much only asks for two things in almost all of her apparitions: repentance and rosaries. So I tell God, “I’m sorry this is how I feel, I’m sorry this is how it is, I’m sorry I have nothing to give you except this blindly memorized prayer that your mom is obsessed with, so here goes nothing.
Bam. Rosary and repentance.
Finally, I’ve been reading the Psalms a lot this summer. Not a lot as in I’ve been reading a ton of Scripture, but a lot as in, when I do pick up the Bible, that’s where I flip. It’s all there: praise, lament, accusation, rage, rejoicing, reconciliation, repentance, and just plain despair. It’s comforting to know I’m not inventing the wheel here, and that God thought it fit to enshrine as sacred the human experience of WHY ARE YOU LETTING THIS HAPPEN? But still I trust in you.
If your prayer life is dry or non existent or resentful right now, might I recommend any or all of the aforementioned exercises until the storm passes or the despair subsides, or at least offer you the knowledge that you are not alone.
Because you are not alone.