For the past 10 years, I have written list after list, scheduling my life, trying to make order out of the chaos. I’ve used timers, journals, laminated chore charts, and employed nagging, yelling, bribery, and punishments to try to keep my family on task and on time. All that has managed to come from it is I have an excellent internal clock that can tell me how long ten minutes is.
Thursdays is my day to run errands and go to Mass, so I was anxious to see how I’d manage getting out the door without thinking about the time. I lazily rolled out of bed at 5:30, after some pillow talk. As I washed the dinner dishes from the previous night, I noticed that my plants needed water. I folded a load of laundry that had sat in my dryer for the past 24 hours. The early birds started getting out of bed, so I asked them to rouse the others. Breakfast ready, little ones dressed; everyone had everything they needed, so I took a brisk walk and prayed the Rosary.
Back home again, I had some breakfast and took a shower. I couldn’t help but notice the time, since we have clocks all over our house, including in the bathroom. I’m early. Well, earlier than usual. We’ll actually get to Mass on time! “You’ve got a poopy diaper to change!” I heard, as I brushed my hair. Of course I do. I only have poopy diapers to change when I’m on time, which inevitably leads to us being late. I had to smile. Quick diaper change, and we’re on our way. We still left the house 5 minutes earlier than usual.
Orange diamond signs on the side of the road. Brake lights. Of course they’re having construction. We waited about 5 minutes. There goes being on time. But somehow, I couldn’t help smiling, and praying that Mass wouldn’t start until we arrived. Why not?
I remember 9 months ago on my birthday, pulling in the church parking lot a few minutes before Mass started, a rarity for our family. “I need to go to the bathroom!” my 3 year old daughter said. Of course you do. So I took her to the bathroom, located in a separate building from the church. I really wanted to be on time to Mass on my birthday. I had spent so much energy running around the house, hounding my poor children to get out the door on time. And we did it! Only to be late now? Please God, maybe Father will be late? I walked through the door of the church just as Father said, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son…” Thank you, Lord! The retired priest who is always a few minutes late was saying Mass that day.
Maybe today it would be the same. Our pastor was gone yesterday, so maybe today, the day our boys altar serve, the retired priest would get there late. I had already resigned myself to being late, though. If it is God’s will that we arrive on time, then we will. But if we are late, perhaps it is for a reason. Perhaps a new altar server needs to serve at Mass. Perhaps another family needs the last pew. God knew my desire, and if it fit into His plan, He would gladly grant my request.
We dropped off the boys before parking, and they made a mad dash for the sacristy like usual. Gathering all the other children, we made the long walk from the car up the church steps. As we walked, I realized the downfall of my timeless day – I was the only one frolicking in my eternal bliss. Other family members were still stressed out about getting to church on time, with that harried, frantic tone, “Let’s go!” But I still just smiled. Not my will, but Yours be done.
The church doors opened, and the altar was empty. No priest! I wasn’t very surprised. Just grateful. Mass was beautiful, and our pastor was celebrating. I guess he was just running late. All part of God’s plan.
Looking over the morning, I realized my motive had changed. Time no longer ruled my life. God did. I wasn’t stressed out because MY day was chaotic. I was surrendering my day to God’s will. I was taking care of my family first, giving God the firstfruits of my day, and He was blessing me. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, and I will change your lot.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)