On Becoming a Sponge
By Ann D'Arcy
Years ago my husband and I attended a motivational seminar where we were told, "If you fill your mind with positives, there will be no room for the negatives." Even though that was more than 40 years ago, I have never forgotten it. Now I apply it to my spiritual life.
Two of our children were diagnosed with ADHD. I'm sure, if it's an inherited trait, they got the ADHD gene from me. I am not only a very active person but quite easily distracted.
When I get discouraged over my inability to concentrate while saying my morning or evening prayers, I pray that God will forgive my tendency to distraction. But I have learned to continue praying, reading the Bible, or saying my Rosary, because I remember those words about filling my mind. That's not to say that I don't get discouraged and struggle mightily with it. Some days are worse than others.
I have what I refer to as my "prayer chair." It is the chair opposite the television, and I have tables on either side of it that hold my Bible, my devotionals, my rosary beads, and so forth. On the wall just to the right of the television, I have an image of Jesus, the Divine Mercy.
As with most people, I have good days and bad days. On my not-so-good days, I put my devotional or Rosary aside for a few minutes and just look at Christ as Divine Mercy. I fill myself with Him — His image and the deep meaning of those words we all know so well, "Jesus, I trust in You." Those words become my prayerful refrain. After a few moments or minutes, He comes to my aid. Or perhaps it's not Jesus coming to me; He was already there. Rather, it's that I draw myself back to Him. Morning prayer sometimes takes me two hours.
I picture myself soaking up the knowledge of Him like a sponge. And just like a sponge, when I'm under pressure and facing difficulties in life, His grace pours forth.
The other day I spilled a substantial amount of milk. I grabbed my kitchen sponge and began sopping it up. After getting the mess cleaned, I knew I had to rinse that sponge thoroughly because if there were to be a trace of milk left within, it would create an environment for germs. It would sour and smell.
I stood at the sink, rinsing, squeezing, applying some dish soap, and then squeezing and rinsing again until the sponge was fresh and clean. It took me awhile and gave me time to meditate. I began to think of all the ways I stray from God. I fall into bad behavior so easily. I submit myself to false pride, gossiping, self-indulgence, or a lack of kindness toward others. At those times it's as though I sop up something that will sour me. If left, it will only be a breeding ground for further spiritual problems. I need to return to God, ask His forgiveness, and spend time in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
He rinses me in His mercy and love and renews me.
Lord, make of me a sponge, full of You, Your grace and love, so that when daily pressures come or someone presses me for prayer, I pour forth abundant hope and help.
Ann D'Arcy lives in South Lyon, Michigan.