“And Jesus by our side, with His hand outstretched, says to us, 'Come, come to me. I will do the work: I will change your heart, I will change your life, I will make you happy.”
– Pope Francis
My eldest has always been a great kid. Polite, intelligent, gregarious - Annie has always been a delight. But for as long as I imagined what she might become as an adult, I have never been able to imagine her behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. In fact, the thought has been downright terrifying to me for years. Among the list of her many gifts and talents, peripheral awareness and focus wouldn’t necessarily be on the top ten (or twenty for that matter). Not only that, but my own confidence in my ability to teach her things remains low after my failed attempt at potty-training a decade prior. “They all learn it at some point,” people would say. “You can’t mess it up,” I would hear. Lies! Let’s just say my wife had to step in quickly and with the other children, we made sure that I was traveling while she taught them that life skill. Needless to say, I was willing to push off the idea of having a teenage driver as long as possible.
Then something happened. Annie started high school and, almost overnight, I started a side hustle as an Uber driver. The only problem was, I wasn’t getting paid, I only had one customer, and that one customer gave me less notice for pickups, more ride changes, less conversation, and certainly no tips or online reviews. Though her high school is only about eight minutes from our house, between activities and sports, movies and sweet 16’s, my wife and I find ourselves in the car more than in our home. Almost magically, just as quickly as my chauffeur responsibilities increased, my concern for my fellow human beings on the road and my fear of rising insurance premiums dropped precipitously. I also discovered a newfound “can do and must do” spirit deep down inside myself to teach my daughter to drive.
As we took our first four miles per hour stroll in a wide-open empty parking lot, I internally blessed myself 100 times. Thankfully, in the first adventure, I didn’t need to use the invisible passenger seat brake because we never got above single-digit speed. As the car jerked and then crept along, Annie had enough at some point and asked for the lesson to be done. “I’m in no rush to learn,” she said. My inside voice yelled, “But I am!” As I drove back to the house, I was conscious of how quickly and dramatically I was now ready for a change and how tied up that change was to my own needs and desires.
It reminded me of how in some of Catholic Leadership Institute’s earliest initiatives we helped participants understand change. Change happens when the dissatisfaction with the status quo is greater than the perceived costs of change. I couldn’t help but wonder in life and leadership what other changes I was or wasn’t making based on how comfortable or uncomfortable I was. How does my awareness of others and what they might need factor into the changes I will or won't permit? In my discipleship, is my pace and commitment to lifelong conversion tied to how comfortable I am or to my dissatisfaction with my sin? They say the only constant in life is change. Where and why am I fighting it or forcing it? As we encounter the opportunities for change in the week ahead, let’s ask for the Lord’s guidance in discerning not if we want to change but how He wants us to change.
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