I pray a morning offering every day. For busy people, it’s a particularly helpful prayer habit because it commits you to give your whole day over to God before you get too distracted and forget all about giving any of the day to Him.
One recent Saturday, I woke up, prayed my morning offering, and then got about the business of my day. I had plans. They weren’t glamorous plans, but they were my plans. With full time work, a family, and a household to manage, I have precious little time for anything else during the week. But today? Today, I had my own plans.
I was planning to paint. Home improvement projects had been looming, unfinished, and this was going to finally be my time to tackle some of them.
I was planning to write. All week long I write for my day job, but I had a fun little side project I was eager to begin working on.
I was planning to clean. It felt like weeks since I had any time to wash sheets and clear clutter, and this was going to be my big day to catch up.
But before I could even put on my painting clothes that morning, my 17-year-old son interrupted me.
“Can I have a ride to the school?” he asked. “I want to meet friends at the football game.”
Sure, no big deal. I drove Stephen to the school.
When I returned, 13-year-old Raphael greeted me at the door, with a laptop open to his school assignment. “I’m kind of confused about the difference between rising action and falling action,” he explained. “Can you read this and tell me if I’m getting it right?”
So I read and edited Raphael’s essay. I also threw in a load of laundry, answered phone calls for my husband’s small business, and made a quick trip to the drug store for materials for my daughter’s latest craft project.
Perhaps you can see where this is going.
For hours that Saturday, my painting clothes and writing notes sat untouched while I completed dozens of small tasks, helping everyone else meet their goals for the day, but not even coming close to accomplishing any of mine.
I was contemplating these frustrating facts, struggling against a choking feeling rising in my chest, when my phone rang again. It was Stephen, asking for a ride home from the football game.
I grabbed my keys and stormed out of the house, letting the door slam behind me. On the drive to the school, I yelled. I yelled at myself for being such a pushover that I let everyone else’s plans supersede my own. I yelled at my family — none of whom were in the car — for being so selfish with their constant demands. I yelled at God, asking him if it was really too much to ask that I have any time at all to choose the things I wanted to do. And then I went back to yelling at myself. You know, for the pushover thing.
I wiped angry tears from behind my sunglasses and picked up my son in silence. As we drove home, I sheepishly returned to a mental conversation with God. Without yelling this time, I asked, “Why am I so miserable?” and “How can I do better?”
And in His mercy He answered me. I recalled the morning offering I had prayed that day, and realized that my prayer had been a big fat lie. I hadn’t given my day over to God; I had considered the day my own. I wanted to rule my life. I wanted to control how I spent my time. I wanted to be king.
This Sunday is the feast of Christ the King, which marks the end of the Church year. This feast was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI who said of it, “[Christ] must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls …”
When we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, we should be acknowledging and celebrating the fact the Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. But… is he? Is Jesus Christ really the Lord of your life? Do you accept him as your King in all things?
That Saturday morning, as I watched my plans go up in smoke, I needed to admit that Jesus was not the Lord of my life. I considered myself lord and any interruptions to my plans were just that — interruptions.
The feast of Christ the King invites us to recognize Jesus as Lord of our lives and King of our world. Not just the big world, but our own small worlds — our families, our time, our schedules. We allow Christ to reign in our lives when we surrender our plans to Him, come what may, including the bothersome interruptions that inevitably show up when we have children and jobs and long to-do lists.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton herself knew about the interruptions of family life. She once said, “My precious children stick to me like burrs … The moment I shake off one side, another clings on the opposite, nor can I write without some sweet interruption.”
Interruptions. Sweet interruptions.
Of course, there is certainly room for better communication with my family. And of course, it’s reasonable for me to expect to have some time for my own projects. But it might be time for me to consider that the very things I think of as “interruptions” can very well be God working in my life, inviting me out of myself, calling me to realize that He’s the one who is really in charge.
And it may be time for me to reflect more deeply on the words of my morning offering when I turn the day over to Jesus, my King, and to pray for the grace to actually mean them.
Christ the King, your kingdom come!
This reflection was previously published. Click here to view all Seton Reflections.
DANIELLE BEAN is a writer and popular speaker on Catholic family life, parenting, marriage, and the spirituality of motherhood. She is the former publisher and editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest, and the author of several books for women including Momnipotent, You’re Worth It! and her newest book, You Are Enough. She is also creator and host of the Girlfriends podcast and a popular speaker on a variety of subjects related to Catholic family life, parenting, marriage, and the spirituality of motherhood. Learn more at DanielleBean.com.