As parents, there are days when we are burned out, wiped out, overtaxed, and overwhelmed. Each stage and phase of parenthood has its joys and its sorrows. It is a hectic and exhausting task to run a Christian family in a modern world. There are days I feel like a car running on an empty tank of gas. Despite how many times my husband tells me, “Please don’t run your car on low fuel; it isn’t good for it,” I find myself doing so because my hectic schedule won’t even allow me to stop and get gas.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28–30:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
What can be more encouraging than this Scripture passage? Our Lord wants to give us rest in him. His rest is one that will calm our spirit and renew us for our mission, the daily demands of life, and the challenging moments related to parenting. So if you are a new mom with a colicky newborn or a parent of a teenager who is giving you heartache, may you find rest in Jesus. As Catholics, we can experience the rest the Lord offers by turning our heart over to Jesus in prayer, going to Mass to be fed with the bread of life, or going to rest with Our Lord in Adoration.
How are you going to seek the rest Christ is offering you in your life? When we take baby steps or toddler steps toward holiness we can set a manageable pace for our spiritual growth and allow Christ to speak to us. Having a relationship with the Lord begins with opening up the airwaves and allowing him to speak to us in the ordinary moments of life. So if you are feeling exhausted, weary and overwhelmed, why not begin employing some new tactics for spiritual growth?
Start your day off with morning prayer. Offer your day to the Lord, share a prayer from your heart, or consider placing a prayer card in a strategic place that will remind you to offer a morning prayer.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular for the intentions of our Holy Father for this month. (Catholic.org)
Remember to offer grace before a family meal. Eat dinner with your family and start this gathering off with thanking God for your food. The traditional Catholic dinner prayer goes like this:
Catholic (before eating): “Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.” (Preceded and followed by the Sign of the Cross.)
Family prayer can be meaningful when we offer our intentions to the Lord. When we carve out time in our busy life for the family to come together and share their prayer intentions a meaningful experience can take place. For what do you want to thank him? For what do you want to pray? What virtue do you want to see increase in your life? Ask your children to offer their intentions, and all respond, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
As Catholics, we are spiritually fed through the sacraments! Take time out of your busy week and go to Mass on Sundays, holy days, and even consider going during the week! When we start to develop a habit of going to holy Mass, we not only speak with our words that God is essential in our life but with our actions. If you are not in the practice of doing so, start by finding a faith community and get plugged in. The sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is a beautiful gift when you need more graces and a tremendous help in your personal life. I recently went precisely because I was feeling burned out as a parent and needed the strength to deal with four teenagers!
Spend time in silence and listen to the Lord. When we take time out of our busy lives, we are better able to hear the voice of Our Lord. Consider reading the daily Scriptures that you can find at USCCB.org or in a Catholic publication such as Living with Christ early in the morning as a way to refresh your soul. Allow the Lord to speak to your heart. Click here to read more about Christian prayer.
By taking steps toward spiritual renewal and revival, you will be able to get your personal gas tank off empty and fuel your daily activities, especially as we prepare for Advent, which is right around the corner. When we are feeling burdened and overwhelmed, we must never forget that Jesus is offering to fill our tanks with the graces we need. We are reminded:
You will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. (Matthew 11:29–30)