Growing Pains

From the Fall 2021 Catholic Key Magazine: https://catholickey.org/2021/09/09/growing-pains/

A season of transition has descended on our family. My oldest boy is starting kindergarten, I’m changing jobs, and the whole family is moving. It’ll mean some big changes for all of us, and the end of a really wonderful chapter in our life together.

Often, when things are going well, we’d like time to stop: when our kids are that perfectly cute and sweet age, when a job we love is fulfilling and fun, or when a vacation just feels perfect.

But when you read the Gospels, you realize that Jesus is always asking his disciples to get moving again. At the Transfiguration, when Peter wants to build three tents to stop and savor the vision, it quickly fades. When Mary Magdalene wants to embrace the newly Risen Christ, she is told not to cling to him. And after the Ascension, when the apostles are still staring at the sky, the angels tell them to get moving and get back to the work to which they were called, the work of evangelization. 

Jesus was always on the move, and he called those who followed him to have the same way of life. But how are we, as parents and families rooted in parishes, communities, and neighborhoods, supposed to live this way? How could we ever live like Jesus without being irresponsible or neglectful of our duties and commitments?

One way is to realize that to be a good parent or a supportive spouse is to always remain open to change. Our spouses develop and grow, as do we if we want to stay happy, healthy and fulfilled. And our children are always changing: crawling, walking, talking, learning and making new friends in the blink of an eye. Our social lives and patterns also become dynamic and ever-shifting depending on what grade, school or season of life we find ourselves in.

Through all these changes, we realize that clinging to any stage, place or season can be counterproductive. Like a child counting down the days until summer vacation is over, we lose the joy of the present moment as soon as we begin to worry about its ending. Sure, we may mourn the end of “babyness” or rejoice at the end of diapers, but true joy is realizing that each stage, no matter how challenging or rewarding, is fleeting, and that God is ever present to us in the here and now of this momentthis stage and this season. God isn’t over there in the future or in your new house or at your new job. But, always, and for all time, God is right here, in this moment, in this place, in this breath.

Steadily, by living life with this awareness of God’s presence, we can slowly begin to realize that everything in life changes, and yet God is always with us, “Beauty ever ancient, ever new,” as St. Augustine wrote. 

Or, as Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing upset you. Everything changes. God alone is unchanging. With patience all things are possible. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.”

With a prodigal trust in the God who is both “unchanging” and “ever ancient, ever new,” we can awaken to the reality that as we prepare the meals and wash the dishes and change the diapers and go to work with an almost liturgical regularity, we are imbuing the world with the extraordinary love that transforms our ordinary family life, with all its transitions and challenges, into a foretaste of the life to come. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Daniel J. Miller says:

    A great message, Michael. A great reminder. And dang, they are cuteness personified. Blessings in and through the changes you and yours are stepping into. ~ Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Dan! Very much appreciated!

      Like

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