Just as today’s #projectblessed prompt asks you to look into your heart and take stock honestly of anything that is keeping you separate from God, Kendra Tierney of Catholic All Year writes about her experience with going on a retreat, and what a difference it makes, not only to her personal prayer life, but for her family.
I know I OUGHT to make time to go on a retreat every year. I know I’m always glad I went when I get back home. But there were a few years, those years with all little ones, when I didn’t go. I had my reasons, but I don’t think they were particularly good. So, here’s why I’m off on a retreat right now . . .
1. Life can go on without me.
I love my kids and they love me. I think my near-constant presence in their lives is absolutely the best thing I can do for them. But for many years, I used that as an excuse for not going away on retreat.
I’m too important. Our home couldn’t possibly function without me. The children would be scarred for life.
But none of that is true. Yes, I am important. Yes, I perform duties that are essential to our family on at least an hourly basis. Yes, my children love me and enjoy and are accustomed to my company. But their Dad is also great, and knows what he’s doing, and they like him, too.
My belief that no one could possibly get along without me was rooted more in my own pride than in a true concern for their welfare. If I’m “just” a stay at home mom, and then I’m not AT home and everything is okay, what does that say about my place in the world?
I choose now to just look at it differently. They will miss me. They will miss the things I do for them and they will miss my presence. But they will be fine because they’ve usually got me and so they’re prepared. They KNOW how much I love them. Plus I’ve prepared food for them in advance and I’ve made sure they have some clean clothes for the weekend and I picked a really awesome man to be their Dad. They’ll be fine without me BECAUSE of me. (And all my newfound humility.)
2. I’ve still got work to do.
I skipped many a retreat because I wasn’t nearly so bad as all those other people.
Which is an opinion that is officially frowned upon by institutions like the Catholic Church and people like Jesus.
I have a long way to go on my road to perfection, and sin — even venial sin — is worth any amount of trouble and sacrifice and effort to try to root out.
I have never had such insight into myself and my weaknesses and what I need to work on as I have had on retreats. And because God is just that awesome, those potentially demoralizing insights have always been accompanied by an influx of grace and zeal for starting in on all that work on myself.
That’s just not going to happen in the cooking and the dishes and the laundry and the schoolwork and the missing shoes of my everyday life.
3. This is my vocation.
I owe God and my family my best effort and complete dedication to my vocation as wife and mother. But, as a God-given vocation, it cannot possibly be that being a devoted mother and a devoted Catholic are in conflict with one another.
Pursued properly, my work at home will help me to love God more, and loving God more will help me to do my work better.
Going away on retreat helps me immeasurably in both areas.
I realize that not everyone has the same opportunity to go on a retreat that I do. Some people would love to go and just can’t. *I* did not have insurmountable obstacles preventing me from going on retreat. All *I* had was my pride and lukewarmess to keep me from going. But all things are possible with God. So, off I go to become a little bit better me. Please keep me (and maybe even the husband, too) in your prayers this weekend.
Kendra lives in Los Angeles, CA where her interests include blogging, homeschooling, looking after her eight children, and fixing up a hundred year old tumbledown mansion. This post was originally published on Catholic All Year.