Lately, the two of us have had to update how we do some of the things we've been doing for a long time. Basically, we've been working to acquire a whole new approach to parenting.
"We have photographic evidence." That's what I've been telling my 81 year old mom. She's never been particularly outdoorsy or adventurous. On our recent family vacation, however, Mom snorkeled, rappelled, zip-lined, and kayaked -- all for the first time in her life! Sure, she may have been a bit tentative at first. But the smiles that fill the pictures we took show that it's never too late to enjoy trying something new.
I'm hoping the same holds true when it comes to Andrew and me. The challenges ahead of us don't involve carabiners or harnesses or wetsuits. Mostly, they will necessitate simplifying how we live, streamlining what we do, and learning to meet our responsibilities by reaching for tools we may never have needed before and don't yet quite know how to use. That will be hard. The good news is that regardless of what it looks like from here, some of what awaits us might even turn out to be fun.
Lately, the two of us have had to update how we do some of the things we've been doing for a long time. Basically, we've been working to acquire a whole new approach to parenting. There are tools we have relied on that just don't work, and ways of seeing things that need to evolve along with so many other things that have changed for us.
In the process, we've had to recognize that some of the things we thought worked probably never did. Certainly some of the things we're learning now, would have helped us avoid many of the mistakes we've made with our kids over the years. I think the hardest part has been the realization that it isn't actually possible to do the same thing in a new way. The fact that you're doing something differently makes what you're doing different. There's no cranking over half-way and longstanding patterns are difficult to break.
Summer gives most of us a chance to rest and reflect. In the warmth of the world around us, perhaps we can find the courage to look just a little more deeply at the worlds inside and between us. It is there that we will find the God who is always doing something new; the Holy Spirit who is sent to guide us into all truth; the grace that is both transformative and sufficient.
Disciples of Jesus Christ can never allow themselves to settle into anything for too long. The promise of eternal life means that there is always more ahead of us than there is behind. It doesn't matter what we've done right or wrong, what obstacles we've overcome or allowed to remain in our way.
The other day, one of our youngest daughters was delighted to show us how she had taught our 9-year old dog to give her his paw when asked. That, and my Mom's summer vacation adventures, lead me to believe that there may just be hope for us too. Old dogs can and do learn new tricks if they're willing to learn anything at all.
The Christian life is not a still life. Each soul is called to keep growing, to keep learning, to keep moving forward toward the fulness of grace. If it means leaving what we're comfortable with or think we know behind, let go. If that means learning a few new tricks -- and it will -- so be it.
JAYMIE STUART WOLFE IS A WIFE AND MOTHER OF EIGHT CHILDREN, AND A DISCIPLE OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES. SHE IS AN INSPIRATIONAL AUTHOR, SPEAKER, MUSICIAN AND SERVES AS A CHILDREN'S EDITOR AT PAULINE BOOKS AND MEDIA.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.