As a Catholic, I embrace the idea that God exists within the context of my everyday life, and I welcome the Shehecheyanu as a verbal manifestation of that idea. It helps me put words behind my feelings of joy and gratitude, and moves me to verbally recognize God’s abundant blessings in the everyday moments of life. As I continue on in this year, I have a feeling that I’ll be saying the Shehecheyanu a lot more.
There are moments when I wonder if I’m trying too hard to control the circumstances of my daughter’s baptism, if—with both a nagging perfectionism and an air of hubris—I’m trying to micromanage the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I am. Then again, Jesus turned water to wine during the wedding at Cana even though everyone would have survived without it. A crass utilitarian he was not. He did the unnecessary—the extra—in favor of celebration and delight. If the Son of God himself wasn’t a “check the box and be done with it” kind of guy, then, well, I don’t have to be either. I’m holding out for my daughter’s baptism with patient hope and joyful anticipation.
I had the thought a year or two ago to ask a mentor of mine, who works in a position that involves frequent interviewing and hiring for various level positions, about the number-one quality that she looks for in applicants.
Her answer was quick and clear: a tolerance for ambiguity. She went on to explain how rare it is that answers are straightforward, next steps are clear, and making decisions is easy. Instead, the people with whom she works need to be not only comfortable with grey areas, but able to flourish within them.
As she described this quality, I found myself both agreeing with its value for all sorts of jobs and circumstances, and determining that it was a quality I wanted to prioritize cultivating.
Often, my approach to challenging phases of life is to grit my teeth and shoulder through the difficulties while repeating the mantra “there’s no way out but through.” But this year, I found that a different aphorism — one that just popped into my head one day, like a missive from the universe — helped me deal with my pandemic-related struggles: “It was never going to be easy.”
Q: My son is not living up to his responsibilities raising my 6-year-old grandson in the faith. He starts first grade in the fall and hasn’t been enrolled in CCD. My son is Catholic but only goes to Mass when I visit, and the last couple of times I was visiting we brought my grandson with us to Mass. My daughter-in-law is also Catholic but hasn’t practiced since high school. What can I do? I am concerned about my grandson not being raised in the faith.
Time-management is a valuable skill, and I doubt that I’ll ever stop being drawn to books with titles like “Getting Things Done,” “Deep Work” and “The Checklist Manifesto.” But priority management — or paying attention to why we are working and what we’re working towards — is equally important. Organizing my weeks in a way that maximizes productivity, presence and pleasure is helping me do both.
People can make our lives more difficult, but without them, we wouldn’t survive. Given this reality, it’s worth figuring out ways to deal with people who challenge us. In cases where changes to the relationships or circumstances are impossible, transforming our attitudes towards the relationships or circumstances may be a good option.