August 5, 2016

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

A prayer to God to embrace change, new beginnings in life

Patti LambAugust is upon us, which means the start of a new school year. Our household is experiencing more than our typical amount of back-to-school anxiety, particularly because my children are changing schools this year and every little detail is new to us.

From start times and bus routes to new teachers and cafeteria procedures, both kids are nervous about the changes ahead.

“What if I have a hard time with my locker combination?” my son asked, out of nowhere, on the way to the grocery one afternoon.

“I forget how the lunch line works!” my daughter exclaimed one evening after dinner.

Similar questions and concerns have been popping up all summer, and my husband and I have repeatedly addressed them in an effort to give the kids peace of mind about the upcoming changes.

Then something happened at work that helped me open a dialogue with the kids about new beginnings and how they never stop.

A well-dressed, prominent looking gentleman walked into my workplace to speak with the owners, but they were at an off-site meeting. Because he missed them, I asked for his business card and for information I could give to them.

The man was a high-level—and well-educated—professional, and his business card certainly reflected that. As he spoke, however, he struggled a bit with his speech and particularly had trouble recalling a certain word during our conversation.

He leaned in and said quietly, “Please forgive my speech.”

“I am recovering from a stroke,” he added. He went on to explain that he is re-adjusting to life after this setback he didn’t see coming. He told me how far he has come, with the help of attentive medical providers, patient therapists and God, in just 16 weeks. He had to relearn some basic skills you and I take for granted.

“In a way, I’ve had to ‘start over,’ even though I’ve been doing this [profession] for years,” he said.

That brief encounter gave me hope about embracing change.

New beginnings are inevitable. Some changes we welcome, and others—well, they can be heartbreaking. I’m learning that the best way to deal with life’s curveballs is through prayer and trusting in God’s goodness.

I told my kids about the gentleman who came to my workplace, and explained that life is full of change and starting over. I said that it’s not always fair and it can certainly be uncomfortable, but I applauded the man’s faith, progress and determination. We all agreed that the most important element of dealing with change is clinging to God through it all.

This discussion reopened the “new school year” can of worms, and it was almost time for bed. That’s when we decided that the best thing we could do with all of our uncertainties was to give them to God, so I tucked the kids in, and wrote this prayer for new beginnings.

Loving God,
I ask you to bless this new beginning.
Though much has changed, I know your love for me will never change.
Please remind me of your presence in the kindness, patience and guidance others extend to me in this new place.
Help me to be the best version of myself, so that I may flourish here—mentally, physically and spiritually. Let my Christ light shine for others, so that they may know your goodness.
Anoint this threshold with your peace. I place my hand in yours, God. Together, let’s begin.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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