As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, October 27, 2017

Circling Back

During the homily at Mass this week, I sat and watched my toddler happily keeping himself busy in our church lobby when it suddenly occurred to me - he doesn't have a pull-up on.  This was completely unintentional, and although he's been doing well at home the past couple of weeks, we have yet to venture out in public without the added security of some kind of disposable (and leak-proof) undergarments.  Realizing my error, I asked my daughter (8) if she would hold the baby so I could take him to the bathroom.  "I'll take David to the bathroom," she offered, and I watched her sweetly take him by the hand and walk her brother to the washroom.  And he officially made it through his first trip out with no mistakes.

This is kind of big, because I trained him on a whim back in July when I had time (and before the baby came), but he's regressed so often since I've often wondered if maybe I made a mistake starting it then.  I've trained my last three (and now four) children at two years old, which for David was in June.  Knowing that I was a month away from having a new baby and that we also had a family vacation planned for August, I had planned on waiting until the fall to start with him.  However when the school year wrapped up I found myself in the last week of June with a rare week in which I did not have to leave the house, not even once.  At nine months pregnant and with zero energy for outings (but having the natural disposition of a seasoned homeschool mother who needs "something" to do with her time!) I decided this would be an ideal time to try - a full five days that I could keep him close to home and near the potty was a rare opportunity, and I decided to take advantage of it.  By day three, he had started figuring out his signs and after a week, he was almost fully trained.

But then came baby.  And summer.  Offers of people to watch my newly potty trained boy who I didn't want to make more work for, so I'd send him in diapers which was confusing for him.  Every time he stayed somewhere else and came home, I'd have to start back at the beginning.  "No problem," I'd say.  I understood that it was still worth it to have done the work, and declared home to be a "no diaper" zone, but chose to be flexible and not feel bad about using diapers when we were out - we just had a baby!  We needed to be flexible.  Our vacation threw another wrench into the whole thing, but it was predictable and we rolled with it. It wasn't until school started and I became overwhelmed with keeping up with my daily routine and cleaning up his accidents that I really began to question myself - had I really started at the wrong time?

It was sheer stubborness that kept me from going back to pull-ups in the home.  It was suggested to me many times, and I'm sure that my sanity suffered immensely because I didn't, but we just kept persevering.  In these days I didn't do anything to "teach" him like I had in the beginning, I just kept doing everything I needed to do without really much thought.  But something amazing happened.  Free from my hovering and prompting, that little boy somehow put two and two together.  He remembered what he learned, and quite on his own began having fewer and fewer accidents until, finally, he was back to using the toilet. The evidence of that was right before me that day at Mass, as I watched my older child take him to the washroom, the work we did was not in vain.

The Christian life is very much like this. We are naturally always striving for God, for good in our lives.  We love Him so much that we fill ourselves with knowledge, go to Mass, receive the sacraments, and do our best to do His will.  There are seasons in our lives when it comes easy, the time seems preordained, and our "yes" takes very little effort.  And then there are times when it seems everything is against us, and try as we make we just can't see past our errors.  We feel so far from Christ and ask ourselves, "Have I made a mistake? Was all of this for nothing?" But we persevere anyway, maybe out of sheer stubbornness, or maybe because - like Peter - we know that life without Christ is empty.  "Where else would we go?  You have the words of everlasting life."

And then one glorious day the dust clears, and before our eyes is the evidence that indeed, He was there all along.  That this life IS worth it, even when we feel our efforts are pointless - they never are, if they are in response to our love for Him.  A friend once described the Christian life as a spiral, circling out but always returning to the center point that is Christ.  At times we may feel very far from Him.  But if we are grounded in a firm love for Christ than we will always circle back to Him, if we keep our eyes on what gives us our hope.  Sometimes we circle farther than others, but we can rest assured that we are still within His gaze.  And in those moments of feeling so far, we can take comfort in knowing that the circle always comes back around to Him.

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