I should go underwater more often. Your support and prayers and advice are totally amazing!
My friend in real life Maria B., wrote in from her tropical vacation to help me!:
"I feel the same way during pregnancy. Depressed, joyless, overwhelmed with feelings of failure on every level. Deep guilt for not joyfully embracing my cross and my seeming total inability to offer up physical suffering.
During my last pregnancy, I went to Fr. Jaffe for some spiritual direction on the while situation. He helped me come to embrace a spiritual attitude I had used in other tough situations, but I mistakening thought was "weak." Stop carrying the cross. Give it to Jesus. In fact, He actually has already carried it for us. He just wants us to embrace Him, walk along with Him. He does all the heavy lifting.
It was very freeing for me to be able to just tell God, "I can NOT handle this. I'm dumping it all on YOU!" The amazing thing is....that is what He wants.
I think this approach is right there with St. Therese's wisdom on spiritual poverty. Once we just embrace the reality of our absolute spiritual poverty and hand the whole mess of to God, the the guilt and heaviness lifts and the freedom of being a child of God can begin to seep in.
I have to constantly keep doing this over and over. And it doesn't really change any externals or make life much easier in a phyical sense. But there is the internal change you talk about. Freedom from the illusion that I can do this (because I can't, only God can) and a deep sense of hope that God is carrying me through life, like a Father carrying a sleeping child."
Melanie from the Wine-Dark Sea posted this AMAZING letter on Faith during pregnancy written by our buddy St. Francis De Sales. He hit the nail on the head. Go read it right now! That should be required reading for all pregnant Christian ladies out there!
Then my friend Patrick sent this link to a super cool St. Francis of Assisi post on "pure joy." This is a must read also!
Finally, Carla, who has never met me in person, also had this important insight
"Abigail was trained as a lawyer (me too) - we were graded and measured by our accomplishments...and we often bring this expectation to motherhood AND prayer..."
I feel like there is this major "purging" that is going on right before my temporary Carmelite vows. (Pray for me! God willing, I will make my 3 year vows to be a lay Carmelite in November 2011). It's really humiliating because I'm NOT in a good prayer schedule right now. I don't know how the entrance interview is going to go next month. (The guys doing the interviews are a little intense and I'm trying to picture my responses. "Well, I'd LIKE to have more prayer in my life but I'm currently flummoxed on how to do that with five kids! I'm sure God has some sort of plan, though. He sent me a Carmelite vocation at the same time I have all these angels to care for, after all!")
Still I think this lack of perfection is really, really positive for me. I need to figure out in the deepest part of my mind that just because I 'check off all the boxes' doesn't mean that I'm a good Carmelite (or a good Mom!) And the counter statement is also true. Just because my 30 minutes of prayer turned into a mere 5 seconds, or just because the kids are eating cereal for dinner and I'm buying extra underwear at Target because the laundry pile is so back-up--that does NOT mean that I'm automatically out of God's will. In fact, not being a perfect "Clair Huxtable" Mom might mean that I'm right where God wants me to be!