"Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care" (Isaiah 40:11).
I sat in my plastic folding chair, head bowed in the darkened school gym, the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar and the hum of the HVAC system swirling in the thick silence of a group of women in prayer.
It felt like a deep exhale after a frantic week.
I leaned back in my chair and tried to quiet my racing thoughts, pulling myself back again and again to the mysterious Presence on the altar before me. It was a beautiful gift to have an hour of quiet praise music, adoration, and a few priests tucked into the corners of the gym to offer the Sacrament of Penance.
It should have felt like a retreat from ordinary life, but instead I found my mind wandering to my piled up laundry. Something I'd seen on Instagram earlier that evening. A disturbing news headline. The mental grocery list I accrue.
It was so frustrating to not feel present to Him. I tried fumbling through a decade of the Rosary. I think I started the same Luminous mystery over three times. Finally I surrendered, figuring that at least I'd been present physically, if not mentally or spiritually.
Just before the priest returned for Benediction, the Lord broke into my busy train of thoughts with a whispered suggestion in a tone so different from my own that I recognized it as unmistakably His:
Be gentle with yourself. I'm glad you're here. I don't need anything else from you.
I don't speak to myself the way Jesus speaks to me. I'm not gentle, and I'm not very forgiving.
I am learning to practice kindness, but I'm still a demanding task mistress, most of all when it comes to me.
Jesus reminded me that He doesn't judge us by the same standards we judge ourselves, thank God. His heart remains tender towards us as we work to be faithful, even when our hearts are cluttered with the business of ordinary living. Jesus doesn't seem to find our humanity an impediment to intimacy with Him—imagine that.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori offered us this prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Share with a friend, inviting her to Adoration with you.
Jenny Uebbing is a wife, mother to five, and the author of the blog Mama Needs Coffee where she writes about sex, marriage, and the Catholic Church. She's a freelance writer, a speaker, and an espresso enthusiast. You can find out more about her here.