January 26, 2007

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Celebrate God’s gift of variety

Sean GallagherMy family and I recently celebrated my younger son’s second birthday.

Over the past several months, Raphael’s speaking ability has grown by leaps and bounds.

He’s mimicked so many words he’s heard that we’ve nicknamed him, “the parrot.”

As his vocabulary has grown, his personality has become more distinguishable as well.

One of the blessings for me of witnessing a toddler’s growth has been taking wonder in the great variety that there can be simply between two brothers who share a room, play with each other every day and are only a couple of years apart.

Michael is a very intense little boy—playing and running around and learning with gusto.

Raphael seems to be more happy-go-lucky. He loves to play with his big brother. But, by and large, he seems more, well, relaxed. (And that’s a bit of a relief to his parents!)

The variety in their personalities is mirrored in their physical looks as well.

Michael has brown hair and green eyes, much like his dad, minus the growing streaks of gray!

Raphael’s head is covered with blond hair and he looks at us with his shiny blue eyes.

Variety among siblings was on display recently when my family and I attended the wedding of one of my wife’s sisters.

The joy of the wedding and the following reception reconfirmed for me the conviction I’ve had for a while that, despite the many different personalities among my wife’s 10 siblings, they’ve honed having fun together into a science.

In reflecting on the joy they created and shared, I came to see that the panorama of personalities, even within one family, is a sign of the great creative power of God.

From that first moment in time billions of years ago when God began his work of creation to the present, the variety that he has brought forth knows no end.

This might come to mind for us humans first when we consider the differences in other people. But it is equally true in the world in which we live.

Even here in plain old Indiana, beautiful variety can be found from the farmlands and lakes of the northern part of the state to the gently rolling hills in the south.

We certainly have a history of not dealing well with all these differences as the endless stories of broken families and wars between nations give proof.

But I am convinced that God gives us, through the sacrament of marriage, the grace not only to cope with those who are very different from us, but to actually take joy in the variety right before our eyes.

So when the unique quirks in your spouse’s or children’s personalities start to get on your nerves, ask God to help you look at them through his perspective, he who is the source of all the variety in our life. †

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