There is a grace that comes with learning something new, even if it's just figuring out how to operate an appliance.
It's never easy to begin something new, and I'm not even talking about the more substantial things in life. Let's face it, even the buttons on a new dishwasher or microwave or coffee machine can throw us off. And a new TV? Forget it. Sometimes, it's because all the features we were told were just so amazing just aren't worth the trouble. Sometimes, it's because there are aspects of what we're leaving behind that we simply wish we could take with us. And too, there is always the uncertainty we feel along with the faces of people we don't yet know, processes and protocols we haven't yet learned, and expectations we have -- or others have of us -- we haven't yet figured out how to meet.
Part of the massive life reconstruction and remodeling project God undertook in our lives over the past year involved job changes for both Andrew and me. In July, Andrew left his full-time career in software development for full-time teaching at the graduate level. It was a move he really hoped to make, but didn't expect would happen for a few more years. He'd been teaching part time for a while, and knew pretty much everyone in the Computer Science Department at Boston University's Metropolitan College. Other than managing the difference in pay, it seemed there wouldn't be too many other adjustments to make. At least, that's what we both thought until he was slated to teach three classes, (two of which he had never taught before), and assumed a few administrative responsibilities.
I began a new job as an acquisitions editor with Our Sunday Visitor a few weeks ago after six wonderful years with Pauline Books and Media. In the great scheme of things, six-and-a-half years isn't very long. But it was long enough to feel more than comfortable with a particular way of managing manuscripts through the publication process. Now, I'm not entirely sure what lies within my radius, and what is part of someone else's. The winding roads of a long commute have been replaced by the technology learning curve of working remotely. The books I'm acquiring are for adults and not kids. That means they are much longer and often much more demanding of the reader -- and the editor. In the past six weeks I've traveled to headquarters in Indiana twice. I'm excited to be traveling to more Catholic conferences and events, too, but I definitely feel outclassed by the experienced business travel crowd I've encountered at airports and hotels.
There is a grace that comes with learning something new, even if it's just figuring out how to operate an appliance. I think it's God's way of telling us that he is cheering us on when we plunge into the unknown, take a risk, or choose challenge over comfort in almost anything. And I think God roots for us because he himself is always doing something new.
Our faith can both comfort and challenge us. In fact, if it doesn't, it is likely that God is calling us into deeper waters. Warm and secure, the familiar rhythms and movements of Catholic faith can give us a sense that we are where we're meant to be. Still, we are called away from what is comfortable for us to the peripheries of what is anything but comfortable for others. Faith becomes stale when we don't venture beyond where we feel at home. God calls us to continuous conversion and newness of life. He has something new for us every day. To discover and receive it, we are invited to embrace the trust that true discipleship requires -- the kind of trust it takes to follow the Son of God, even when he is hanging on a cross or sleeping in a manger.
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.