Tuesday, 16th December – A good excuse?

So, I didn’t blog on Sunday or yesterday, and I can’t even plead busy-ness as an excuse. Well, that is not strictly true, I have been busy, but I have also managed to write blog posts on days that I have been just as, if not more, busy than this Sunday and Monday. I suppose end-of-term tiredness has caught up with me. There were moments in the past couple of days when I could have organised my thoughts and written something, but it was easier to sit down and zone out. Last night I fell asleep whilst praying – I woke up at six o’clock in the morning and was very confused to find the light still on. Oops.

So yes, tiredness is my excuse for breaking my blogging resolution, but I am back and intend to make myself recompense for the absent days. (I DO need to write about the Third Sunday of Advent, I love Gaudete Sunday!) But what it made me think of are the excuses I use for putting things off.

Sometimes excuses are legitimate and allowances have to be made. But as someone who is generally healthy and happy, I have a sneaking suspicion that I use the excuses ‘busy’ and ‘tired’ too much. Even when I am busy and tired, a little more organisation and earlier bedtimes could tweak the situation to be far more manageable (she says, typing at gone midnight…).

My real point is that nomatter how busy we get, we always make time for the things that are most important to us – and, conversely, we are all very good at being unavailable when obligations that we’re not too keen on come up.

Advent is a good time to assess our priorities and do some clear and decisive ordering. How much time am I spending watching videos online vs reading those books I’ve been meaning to? How much time do I spend trawling through Facebook vs actually skyping or writing to or visiting my friends when I can? And, of course, how much time do I spend thinking about my own wants and concerns and opinions vs dedicating time to God in prayer?

And by dedicating I mean dedicating; purposefully setting time aside in each day to spend in conversation with Him, and more importantly, listening for Him. This is so important and so valuable, and yet I struggle with it. I pray every day, as I go from task to task generally, trying to gage what God would have me do in each situation, asking for His help, giving thanks, etc., etc. I do believe this is important, making every part of your life a dialogue with God, if you will. But there is a difference between talking to Him as you go about your daily business, and making a conscious decision to pause your daily business and spend time with Him.

It helps me to think of it in terms of human relationships. My close family members and best friends would be happy to help me out if I needed assistance, and we could spend time completing a task together quite merrily. But I wouldn’t only to spend time with me when I have work that I need their help with. It is a given that we plan times together which are solely for enjoying each other’s’ company. If we do this for our friends and family, how much more should we do it with God!

I think about it, too, in terms of spiritual nourishment. A quotation about prayer that I’m rather fond of is the following, from C. S. Lewis:

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.

Prayer isn’t merely a helpful option, it is a universal need. The above quotation perceives and expresses that need wonderfully; the need that is with all of us, whether or not we can see it or feel it ourselves. And we should take that need seriously into consideration when working out how to make prayer a priority in our daily lives.

If a friend said to you, ‘Oh, I haven’t eaten in a week, I’ve been so busy,’ you wouldn’t say ‘Oh, well you’ve had a lot going on at work, that’s totally understandable.’ You would be concerned. You would probably sit them down, give them food, and make them eat there and then, all the while telling them about how they need to be looking after themselves and offering assistance and advice on how to improve the situation.

I’m not saying that if someone tells us that they haven’t prayed in a while we should frogmarch them to the nearest church and sit with them until they’ve prayed an entire rosary with you. (This may not be particularly helpful in some cases… in others, though…) But we should take this seriously. Human beings are both body and soul, and we need to look after both. Don’t let hectic activity – or ‘hectivity’, as I now like to call it – in life cause you to starve your soul and weaken your relationship with God. Take this time of year as an opportunity to turn to Him anew, and ask Him to show you how to spend more time with Him.

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