Praying through Gritted Teeth

woman-stressed-featured-w740x493It was one of those days. I had had two already that week, and Lent was looming large in front of me, and my head was throbbing.

Physically, I was exhausted. Mentally, I was wiped out. Spiritually, I was dry and nearly despairing.

What was most frustrating to me was that there was no good reason for any of this. Oh sure, there were the usual set of worries and limitations, the same old stresses that every work-from-home wife and mom faces. But I couldn’t help but feel like I was failing. Like I was falling short. Like I was not worth the effort.

“God, why me? Don’t you have better people to entrust this Big Important Project to? Can’t Katrina do it more efficiently, Katelyn do it more effectively, Katherine do it just plain better? Why in the WORLD did you settle for me?”

Looking back, I still feel that sense of shame as things started to collapse around me, that sense of needing a lifeline, that sense of growing anger and frustration. The project I was facing was one that I knew was going to make a difference for a lot of people, one that would bless both those who received it and those who were involved with it.

And yet, I couldn’t get over the fact that it was Just. Too. Much.

There are all too many instances of my prayer coming out through gritted teeth. My approach to God’s plan in my life and to the little cross he asks me to bear each day is to rebel, to question, to argue. Rather than embracing it, I duck from it.

I grit my teeth and let the anger and frustration wash over the certainty that God knows what’s best, clouding the truth with my own whims and desires. I rail and complain, hide and run away. Maybe I’ll keep plodding forward, but my inner attitude is the kind of thing I would not stand from my own children.

And then, when things work out, I’m shocked.

My spiritual director has reminded me, many times, that God can take it when I’m angry and frustrated. He has all but told me to “let him have it,” citing the Psalms as perfect examples of just how to do it.

I’ve found, over the years, that however—and whenever—I turn to God, whether through gritted teeth or with a joyful heart, he is there. Just as I am there for my own children, whether they are being little beacons of good behavior or examples of what not to do, whether they are stomping around or dancing through the house.

No matter how small the hurdle I face (and they are embarrassingly small, I’m afraid), God is just waiting for me to ask. His help may not be what I have in mind, just as his will may not be what I have planned. In the end, though, despite my gritted teeth and bad attitude, it always leads me closer to that divine goal of sainthood and life with him.

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