Jen at Conversion Diary spent a week in retreat at a monastery. (Check out the photos at this post -- wah, I want to have lattes on retreat too!) Here she posts "6 things I learned from living on a monastery prayer schedule." In part
4. It makes you surrender your life to God at the micro level
I always try to better surrender my life to God, but I often think of it at the macro level alone: e.g. I'll work on trusting him with what I'll be doing 10 years from now, my children's vocations, my writing projects, etc. But living according to a rule of prayer involves even deeper surrender. There have been quite a few times since I've been here that I was really into whatever I was doing, and the last thing I wanted to do was set it aside and go back to the church to pray. To let go of my activities requires an act of trust: trust that God will give me the grace to pick up where I left off if whatever I was doing was important in his eyes, that this "interruption" won't irreparably derail whatever I was doing, etc. I find myself taking these little leaps of trust at almost every prayer time, whereas back at home I simply push back my prayer or meal times to accommodate whatever it was I was doing -- no trust necessary.
This was something I needed to read.
I am not, really, a time-waster (most days). I don't, for example, think that I spend "too much time on the Internet." I enjoy blogging and reading blogs and other interesting things, and I spend some time on it most days, and I don't think the total time is excessive. It's perfectly ordinary to have a hobby, and to use leisure time to do something that's fun (or to multi-task, as I am doing now as I blog on my netbook while nursing a baby to sleep in a quiet bedroom).
But I don't always like the focus I have on it. It's hard for me to tear myself away quickly to attend to my children or to begin some task I ought to do. And it's a distraction.
It's a self-indulgence.
I keep hinting about wanting to use what I've learned to defeat gluttony, to combat my next most besetting vice, which is letting this leisure-time activity of mine (and it's really not just internet use -- reading in general is part of it too) consume my attention. It's possible that part of the problem is overconsumption, devoting too much time to it, and I guess I haven't exhausted the possibilities of self-limitation of total hours. But honestly, I don't think it is "total time" that is the trouble. It's the totality with which I get absorbed, even in taking a very short break to check e-mail or to dash off a quick blog post. It's the reluctance to be interrupted. I think Jen may have put her finger on it a bit in her post.
Part of my vocation as mother demands that I make myself available to be interrupted when my children need something from me. I am terrible at this. Yes, I also need to train my children not to interrupt me for trivial matters, but you know, I want to be a mom who says "Sure, I'll read you a story" or "Yes, I'll help you settle that argument" or "Okay, I'll feed you breakfast." I don't want the first thing I say to my kids in the morning to be "Aaaargh! What are you doing up already? It's not even seven o'clock yet!" Even if I'm not done with my blog post.
I am struggling with how to put the pieces together for a strategy to change myself. If I can do what I've already done, what can't I do? But I still am not sure how to go about it. I feel like I need a plan.