Welcome to CatholicMom.com’s book club on Lisa Hendey’s The Grace of Yes. We’ll be discussing a chapter each week, using the discussion questions at the end of each chapter of Lisa’s new book.
The Grace of Yes has only been released in the last few days, and let me tell you: the book is amazing! Lisa has written something that doesn’t just point us towards a deeper relationship with God — a relationship that improves with every “yes” we give Him. She’s written a book in which she bares her own soul. It’s a brave thing to discuss your own shortcomings and share the strategies you’ve been using to get past them. Again and again, I found myself nodding my head, thinking (or even saying out loud), “Oh, wow! Me, too!”
“Chapter 1: The Grace of Belief” is where we start, and it’s where I started relating to Lisa right away. From growing up in the 70’s (it wasn’t much better in the 80’s) to wandering from the faith after college to marrying someone who wasn’t Catholic and waiting years for his conversion to admitting how difficult it is to just be still and listen for God’s quiet voice, I just kept thinking, “Lisa and I are so much alike!”
There’s so much to ponder in this chapter, so let’s take a quick look at a couple of the questions Lisa suggests at the end of Chapter 1:
° What logical and emotional constraints keep you from fully trusting God?
I used to think that I had a lot of trust in God, that I was willing to let Him have control over the things in my life that worry me. And, to be honest, I had improved over the years in this aspect. I stopped worrying about things I couldn’t control.
Then my girls became teens, and I learned a new meaning for “worry,” taking it to all new levels.
As a homeschooling mother, I tend to put great amounts of pressure on myself when it comes to my children’s education. I worry that we aren’t doing enough of one subject or another, that I’m not good enough at teaching some of the finer points, that we didn’t do enough projects and fun things when they were little, that I could have incorporated more arts and crafts or more fun days or more … well, you name it. I never quite feel like I’m enough when I let myself think about this.
Add to that the usual things mothers of teens worry about these days: am I careful enough about their electronic consumption, what they have access to, what they watch, what they hear on the radio. Have I protected them enough? Too much? Is there something I let slip through that will harm their souls badly? Am I responsible for things I didn’t protect them from?
It’s crushing, and I realize now that it means I’m not trusting God enough.
I need to trust Him, to know that He will never abandon my girls, even if they turn away from him. I need to know that as long as I pray for them, and even if I don’t, Christ will never stop beckoning them and reaching out to them in love — in the perfect love that only God can give us. The difficulty for me is letting them go and acknowledging that I can’t control what they choose, that their free will is going to be in play here. That all I can do is pray for them daily, offer up my pains for their souls, and trust God with the rest. I can’t let fear for them consume me, and I can’t let myself believe that their lives are in my control.
Sometimes, during my weekly Holy Hour, I close my eyes and imagine that I am standing at the foot of the Cross, gazing up at Jesus. I walk away, then come back with my girls, each one in turn. As I approach Jesus again, I’m holding her hand and leading her towards Him. When I arrive at the Cross, I guide my daughter to His feet and say, “Here.” I say it to her, because I want her to be with Him; and I say it to Him, because I want Him to take care of her for me when I no longer can. I have to repeat it, because it’s so very hard for me to really let go. It’s so very hard for me to realize that I have so little time left. And there are no do-overs — only what I’ve done and said and taught. All I can do is pray it’s been enough.
All I can do is trust. And that’s hard, too.
Which brings me to the other question I wanted to write about today:
° What aspects of your faith need to be renewed with greater vigor?
I think that trust is probably the biggest thing, really. And that can only be cultivated with a better prayer life. As a Lay Dominican, I should be praying morning and evening prayers, a daily Rosary, and daily Mass whenever possible. My vocation is keeping me very busy, and Mass is difficult to get to between the various courses my girls are taking. But I know I could be a better steward of my time and get that Rosary in more often. I know that I could really pray Lauds and Vespers instead of saying them.
Basically, I need to work through my spiritual dry seasons with more grace than I have been lately.
My greatest hope in this is that there are graces to be found in doing even when I feel nothing, even when I have to make myself sit down to pray. I am certain there are, though. I’m certain that I do get credit for trying when it’s so hard, even when I fail to set the time aside to pray.
And I believe that if I persist, I’ll fall back into the rhythm of prayer, and in those moments of prayer, I’ll learn to trust in a deeper sense. Sometimes, in my biggest moments of weakness and doubt, all I can pray is, “Jesus, I trust in You,” over and over until I believe it.
So: prayer and trust. I think they’ll go hand-in-hand.
Join our discussion! Head on over to CatholicMom.com’s page on Lisa’s book, check out the other bloggers’ posts, and add your voice! Let’s talk about our yes to God and how to deepen it!