Several years ago, when teaching at Fordham Prep in NYC, I was assigned to attend meetings with a Spiritual Director as part of my formation as a new teacher at a Jesuit institution. And although I could write a great deal as to how that formation has influenced not only my personal faith journey, but also my Catholic motherhood journey, the one lesson that I continue to return to is the Jesuits’ commitment to missionary work, even when that means accepting changing one’s life frequently or unexpectedly. “It’s a gift,” my spiritual director would share, “to not know what lies ahead as you quickly learn that relying on God is really all you can do.” Since having this conversation with my spiritual director, there has not been a day that has gone by that I have not thought about where God is calling me and the missionary work that he has for me just over tomorrow’s horizon. I think of this lesson often as a mom of three, especially as I contemplate, “Where is God leading our family next?”
I wish that I could say that I am the type of mom who easily accepts change, but I am not. Discerning God’s will for my family has often been met with anxiety and fear. It is not uncommon to hear me mutter under my breath the question, “Why can’t God just let us have a boring life?” As soon as these words are uttered, I catch myself laughing, in much the same way that Sarah laughed when finding out that she was expecting Isaac (Gen 17:16). I laugh at the absurdity of my request for a boring family life, one devoid of the gifts that unexpectant changes bring and the kind of joy that only resting in the will and arms of God can bring.
Over the years of motherhood, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that a boring family life is one that is missing the unexpected gifts that my spiritual director found to be of great joy—it is a family life disconnected from God’s love and grace. A family life filled with twists, turns, and unexpected changes in direction, calls to new places, and encounters with new people is a reflection of God’s calling us to go where our families are needed most—into those places where his children are yearning to see truth, beauty, and goodness.
So, if you find yourself in a period of transition, discerning where God is leading your family next, or even lamenting that your family life is too full of unexpected changes and new beginnings, I hope that you, too, step back and laugh in the manner of Sarah. Because, in the end, an un-boring family life is a true reflection that God is at work in your family— embrace the joy of it all.