I will praise You in this sunshine.

There’s a song by a band called Casting Crowns that I’ve always loved called “I will Praise You in this Storm.”

Aside from being a total jam, this particular song (like many others for me) is a bit of a tear jerker – mostly because it’s relatable and emotional and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

“I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are, no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hands. You’ve never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.”

A little intense, maybe – but it’s comforting, right?

Recently though – since deciding to leave Florida, taking a job in Iowa, and moving (ever-rapidly) back to the Midwest, I’ve found myself in the midst of a struggle that can’t quite be classified as a ‘storm.’

I know what you’re thinking – Come on, Mary Kate. You must be the most miserable, difficult-to-please human being on the planet. How could you possibly still be unhappy after all this to-do?

Ha. That’s just the thing though – I’m not unhappy.

Rather, I am overwhelmingly, unmistakably, totally and completely happy. Joyful, over-the-moon, ecstatic, call it what you will – I constantly find myself smiling, laughing, thinking about how grateful I am to be here.

So what could possibly be the problem, Mary Kate? What are you complaining about?
It’s this – I am so good at putting my struggles in God’s hands. What I’m absolutely awful at, however, is putting my joys in His hands.

This job in Iowa has been absolutely everything and more. I love what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with – I can barely put to words how satisfying it is to be in a place that feels so completely right.

I’m still working harder than I ever anticipated, still barely sleeping (having a puppy pretty much guarantees a daily 6AM wake-up call), still a little unsure of the future, and still missing my family – the difference between then and now, though, is that I could not be more content.

When I was in high school and briefly living in Cotija de la Paz – a small village in Michoacan, Mexico (my good friends read this and roll their eyes because they’ve heard every story there is to tell about my time in Mexico) – a woman shared an insight with me that I’ve thought of often since. She told me that although God cherishes all of our prayers, He’s particularly fond of the ones that are difficult – the ones that we say late at night, when the chapel is dark and our eyes are falling shut from exhaustion and we can barely form a cohesive thought, let alone say a meaningful prayer – those are the prayers he really, really loves.

Why does He love those prayers so much? Because they require us to try.

There is nothing more natural to me than turning to God when I’m struggling. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taught to pray about my problems. It is virtually effortless for me – in fact, I’ve found that when I’m unhappy, it seems the only thing that doesn’t require effort is talking to God. When I’m unhappy, I seem to be talking to God all day, every day.
But here, now, I am (for the most part) unwanting. I feel appreciated and I feel valued. I have many friends. My work is meaningful. I am challenged daily, yet constantly surprised by my own abilities and my own willingness to go the extra mile.

I guess it’s true that work no longer feels like work when you’re loving what you do.
However, in my immensely-fulfilled state, talking to God has gone from a habit to an afterthought.

Now is the time, then, for me to try.

Now is the time for me to make time for prayer, daily mass, and the 15-minute drive to the nearest adoration chapel.

And so, I’ve committed myself to breaking this bad habit. God wants my heart when I am struggling, but He wants my heart when I am happy just as much.

I will always praise Him in my storms –

but I must praise Him in my sunshine too.