My life took an abrupt turn on July 8, 2011, when my friend Jim had a seizure and was diagnosed with a very aggressive brain cancer. After surgery, he moved into my home, and I cared for him until he died nine months later.
Caring for someone who was terminally ill required changes to my daily routine; my schedule was no longer my own.
A year after Jim died, I moved “home” to Michigan; I had left when I was eighteen, so moving back meant starting over. Loss on top of loss created cumulative grief, and I felt like I was climbing out of a deep hole the first few years.
From deep inside that hole, I would find myself trying to remember what my life looked like before Jim got sick. What did I do in the evenings? Weekends? What routines had I lost? What habits had I abandoned?
But, bit by bit I remembered and reintroduced things I had to let go of while caring for Jim—baking, reading and jigsaw puzzles, to name a few. But some habits were more difficult to reestablish.
Daily prayer and exercise fall into that category.
I had kept the habit of spending quiet time every morning, writing in my journal and reading scripture; but actually praying, having conversations with God—not so much.
And I missed those conversations with God. I missed the practice of reading scripture and paying attention to what word or phrase caught my attention. I missed the practice of carrying that message with me throughout the day and dipping back into the well of conversation with God. I missed the grounding of it, the nourishment of my spirit and the comfort of it.
So why wasn’t I praying? I knew that God was waiting for me to come back. What resistance was at play? And, more importantly, how could I get past my resistance.
It was one of those catch twenty-two situations—getting past my resistance required prayer, but my resistance was to prayer. I was trapped, stuck, paralyzed.
I needed an attitude adjustment.
Sometimes, a moment of awareness that I am being resistant is the jolt I need to adjust my attitude, and that opens the door to greater awareness.
It is an inertia kind of thing, and once I start, once I am in motion, all kinds of possibilities open before me.
Advent seemed the perfect time to reestablish my prayer practice. Every morning, I lit my Advent candles, journaled, read scripture and asked for the courage to move against my resistance.
And every morning, a word or phrase of scripture caught my attention, and I remembered it.
The growing light from my Advent candles corresponded to my deepening prayer. By Christmas, my prayer was back on track, and moving into the New Year, I feel more grounded in my relationship with God.
Now, for reestablishing my exercise routine—I signed up with a personal trainer for an eight-week program.
Madeline Bialecki grew up in Detroit and recently returned after living in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. She began writing about her spiritual journey and faith life after the death of her best friend in 2012. She likes to read, knit, bake and garden. She shares her spiritual journey here.