The University of Notre Dame was one of many colleges that closed its doors recently because of the polar vortex that descended upon the midwest. I wondered from the comfort of my fire-lit living room couch what the college-aged young adults were doing with their snow days...so I asked:
"Lots of movie-watching," said one. "P-A-R-T-Y," another offered. One dorm made a pancake breakfast for its residents. And some took the "boiling water challenge" which consisted of tossing a pot of boiling water outside and watching it immediately freeze into a cloud of crystals.
Imagining myself back on campus, I wondered what I would have done with the unexpected windfall of free time. What we choose to do with our time depends on how we think about God (a concept borrowed from A.W. Tozer). For example, if I believe that God is a Taskmaster, I might feel guilty watching Netflix all weekend, assuming that my worth to God is measured by what I am able to do for Him, not who I am. If I believe that God is a distant and disassociated "Creator of All Things", I might conclude He doesn't care what I do with my time, leaving me free to do whatever feels good in the moment, leaving the consequences for later. If I believe, however, that God is my loving Father, I am much more inclined to accept the break in routine as a gift from Him to be relished by engaging in wholesome activity shared joyfully with others.
As praying college moms, we recognize that time is a great treasure, on loan to us by God. The wisest, smartest, most rewarding way to spend it is to dedicate a little sliver of time each day trying to get to know God better. For our effort, God blesses us superabundantly. Prepare to be amazed when you hear what Saint Teresa of Avila's spiritual director said about the benefits of prayer:
In mental prayer, the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope... (OK, sound good so far, right?)
The mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; (Praying can make me happy!)
The senses are renovated; drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears... Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer Heaven is opened; to mental prayer Heavenly secrets are manifested and the ear of God [is] ever attentive. (I love that God promises to be ever attentive.)
I hope your mind is blown, as was mine when I first read this quote from Saint Peter of Alcantara. On those days when praying is hard, I try to remember that it's a two-way street. I give a little time to my Loving Father and he showers me with spiritual gifts that enable me to be a better wife, mother and friend.
How many college-aged young adults broke from movie watching or partying to acknowledge the gift of God in their snow days? As praying college moms, what can we do to encourage them to prioritize well?
First, we set an example, right? Regardless of whether the snow falls and we find ourselves with time on our hands, or we're rushing through our workday routine, we dedicate the first few minutes of every day to God. Next, we remember that God does all of our heavy lifting, so we entrust our children and their behavior to Him and relax. That way, we're not transmitting anxiety every time we talk to them. Finally, we can share our experiences of God with them in a natural, genuine way when we're prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Do you have a story to share with our PCM community of experience in prayer, or of effectively witnessing to your child? I'd love to hear from you! Until next month...