“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” – Mother Teresa
I’ve never been much of a crier. It usually takes a lot for me to cry actual tears and, historically, I cry more out of frustration and anger rather than sadness or something really touching my heart. But the last 6 months or so I’ve found myself crying more and more. I first noticed it in my counseling sessions. Guys, I’ve been in and out of therapy for about 6 years and, until recently, cried MAYBE three times during a session. When I went back after losing baby Kolbe, I was 6/6 straight crying in each session. Like actually crying hard. It was unnerving and just weird. I don’t cry! *Of course* we talked about why I don’t cry and I was given homework to really examine that part of myself. Sigh. Counseling. But then I realized I had been crying a lot on a regular basis. Like, every time it gets to the scene in the movie Trolls where Branch and Poppy sing True Colors. Tears. Or the end of Coco when Miguel sings Remember Me to Mama Coco. Or reading a touching story on Instagram. Or singing the Gloria at Mass with the brass instruments playing. Or sitting down to a meal with family and seeing their joy and love. Or talking to anyone about anything remotely deep. Waterworks. And for someone who isn’t used to crying a lot, this is weird.
Around the same time, I noticed my disposition toward priests changing. I chalked it up to having a brother entering the priesthood soon and seeing him in the other priests I interacted with – you know, more like real people. But when two young priests who we were fairly close with took a leave of absence for various hardships, it hurt me so deeply. My momma heart absolutely broke for them and I wept. It caused me to question if my attachment was healthy and I was confused by my strong reaction. It honestly scared me and for weeks I felt very uneasy. Then my counselor said (yes, while I was crying), “when your mother’s heart is hurting for these priests, think about how united you are with our Blessed Mother, because you know she is hurting for them, too.”
A couple weeks ago on a course at the TOB Institute, I connected some dots regarding all of this. (1) Last year I heard a talk by Jen Settle on the interior life of a missionary and was given an inspiring peak into her own interior life. That talk sparked in me a desire to deepen my own prayer life and to (2) complete the 33 Days to Morning Glory, Marian consecration. Preparing for that consecration to Jesus through Mary, I found the prayer of Mother Teresa “lend me your heart” (you can read more on that here). (3) So for a year, countless times per day, I’ve been asking to borrow Mary’s immaculate heart so that I might love more perfectly like her. I intended (and expected) that prayer to lead me to more patient and self-giving love for my family. What I can see now is that it has actually led to a softening of my hardened heart and developed in me a mother’s heart for priests. This realization came when I heard Jen’s talk again a couple weeks ago. I thought, “hey! I’m more like Jen! All the sensitivity and deep love for our priests, it’s like Jen!” And then a moment later… “no. I’m more like Mary. Holy crap.” Prayer changes us. In unintended, powerful, and sometimes uncomfortably hard ways, prayer changes us.
Lord knows I have a lot more change that needs to happen, but what a gift to see some progress. It’s like one of those confidence boosting workouts where you finally catch a glimmer of your fitness and potential. Still more work to do, but all the work you’ve been doing is paying off and you’re inching closer and closer. It’s worth it, y’all. Let’s put in the work. Put in the prayer. It changes us. Then we change the world.