Welcome to our series on the beautiful midlife season! We will explore all the blessings, challenges, and changes that accompany this time in a woman’s life, from the physical, to the relational, to the spiritual, and more. Come with your questions in the comments!
Recently, I was listening to a podcast on the topic of discernment, excited to learn new tips and tools. About halfway through the hour-long podcast, I turned it off in frustration.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with me,” I thought. The podcast was about vocational discernment.
Then, I celebrated that fact. “This podcast has nothing to do with me!”
After years of discernment, and initial years of settling and adjusting to my vocation, I have finally reached a point of contentment. Many of us, after ten, or twenty or thirty or more years into living our vocation reach that sweet spot of content, but not yet perfect. Life experience has matured us in leadership and life skills, and we are living and embracing the fulness of our spiritual motherhood.
The Spiritual Shift of Midlife
In our early life, our prayers are often turned to hopes and dreams, discernment of God’s will, and filled with hope. Later in life, our prayers turn toward our final goal of Heaven. Friends and family have passed on and we begin to evaluate our life from an eternal perspective.
In the sweet spot of middle life, as our earlier prayers have been answered in one way or another, we settle into life routines and our prayer shifts again. Prayer becomes more focused on our day-to-day events, learning to surrender to His will.
Even though we have reached a point of contentment, blessed and beautiful as it is, it presents its own unique heartaches and challenges. Our parents are becoming elderly, new worries and fears emerge as children age, and we try to navigate how to balance the service of others and our own needs and desires.
Sometimes it’s hard to put words to our experiences when we are trying to pray about them.
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Prayers for the Midlife Season
Here are a few prayers from our friends, the Saints, who have done this before. Let us to turn to them when our own words are not there.
When I am in Authority
O Good Shepherd Jesus, good, gentle, tender Shepherd, behold a shepherd, poor and pitiful, a shepherd of the sheep indeed, but weak and clumsy and of little use, cries out to You. Teach me, Your servant, therefore, Lord, teach me I pray You, by Your Holy Spirit, how to devote myself to them and how to spend myself on their behalf. Give me, by Your unutterable grace, the power to bear with their shortcomings patiently, to share their griefs in loving sympathy, and discretely to help them according to their needs. Taught by Your Spirit, may I learn to comfort the sorrowful, to strengthen the weak, to be weak with those who are weak, to be indignant with those who suffer scandal, to become all things to all in order to save all. Place true, just, and pleasing words in my mouth, so that they all may be built up in faith and hope and love, in chastity and lowliness, in patience and obedience, in spiritual fervor and submissiveness of mind. I commit them into Your holy hands and loving providence. May no one snatch them from Your hand, nor from the hands of Your servants unto whom You have committed them. May they always persevere with gladness in their holy purpose, unto the attainment of everlasting life with You, our most sweet Lord, their Helper, who live and reign to ages of ages.
// Saint Aelred of Reivaulx
When I am Busy
How is it God, that you have given me this hectic busy life when I have so little time to enjoy your presence? Throughout the day people are waiting to speak with me, and even at meals, I have to continue talking to people about their needs and problems. During sleep itself, I am still thinking and dreaming about the multitude of concerns that surround me. I do all this not for my own sake, but for yours. To me, my present pattern of life is a torment; I only hope that for you it is truly a sacrifice of love. I know that you are constantly beside me, yet I am usually so busy that I ignore you. If you want me to remain so busy, please force me to think about and love you even in the midst of such hectic activity. If you do not want me so busy, please release me from it, showing others how they can take over my responsibilities.
// Saint Teresa of Avila
When It’s Hard to Keep Going
O my Mother, Mary Most Holy, obtain for me holy perseverance and the love of Jesus Christ.
When I’m Grieving
Lord God, we can hope for others nothing better than the happiness we desire for ourselves. Therefore, I pray you, do not separate me after death from those I tenderly loved on earth. Grant that where I am they may be with me, and that I may enjoy their presence in heaven after being so often deprived of it on earth. Lord God, I ask you to receive your beloved children immediately into your life-giving heart. After this brief life on earth, give them eternal happiness. Amen.
// Saint Ambrose
When I’m Worried
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling, and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.
// Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
When I Want to Complain
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue. Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings. Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all. Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks. Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor. Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
// Saint Faustina
When I Need the Holy Spirit’s Help and Presence
Spirit of God, come upon me as You came upon the chaos of the world, as you came upon the Virgin Mary to create in her Our Lord.
// Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
The Lord is just as faithful to us now as He was when we first began this journey with Him. We may hear Him less, but hopefully, we know Him more. In this season of life, He is working to make us saints in concrete ways. Our day-to-day life, even when what was once exciting but now may be mundane, is glorifying Him. Rest in the love He has for you, the sweet tender love of being known now, today, for who and Whose you are.
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