Ten years ago I have a grandiose dream: to be married, with four kids, and to teach the Catholic faith in an academic setting. It is weird how a mere decade one’s dreams shift, but remain the same. I am married to my best friend: a woman who is enthusiastic about her faith, geekiness, and fandom of the T.V. Show The Office. The Christmas she demonstrated her propensity for epic spousehood yet again by gifting me with a collector’s set of The Maps of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth!!!
Along with my wonderful wife, God blessed me with children– and we are expecting the birth of our fourth child (and second daughter). Children are always a blessing, but in our family’s history of miscarriages those blessings that make it to full term term on a whole new meaning. Sudden bursts of joy interrupt my day where I have to send an excited text to my wife: “We are having another baby!!” Parenting is by far the most stressful and time-consuming job, yet it is the job where a person encounters the most joy–expected and unexpected!
My third and final dream of teaching the Catholic faith has kind of been a mixed bag, a zig-zagging path where I have to shift and broaden my horizons. I used to have horse-blinders on when it came to teaching: the plan was to get my Ph.D. in theology or biblical studies and teach at the university level. Quickly this goal had to shift after the birth of my first child. Sleepless nights and increased expenses stymied that dream of following along the path of St. Thomas Aquinas and lecturing about dogmatic theology throughout the week. After this window closed another opened in the form of teaching high school theology. While I thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter, the extra work (lesson planning, classroom management, and outside prep work) soon exhausted me and placed strain on my home life.
St. Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God,who are called according to his purpose.” In other words, God was preparing for a path to educate the Catholic faithful (and perhaps those that may have strayed away from the Gospel) in a way not expected–through the written word. In hindsight, being a writer makes perfect sense as I had a penchant for reading and creativity dating back to my days of youth. As an elementary student, I remember visiting the library weekly and renting no less than 20 books! My passion for learning continues and my personal library would make my 20 year old version of myself quite envious: from Fulton Sheen to J.R.R. Tolkien and Percy Walker to C.S. Lewis I seem to acquire a new title weekly for my collection.
Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ always brings peace and joy, but this year I gained a deeper sense of gratitude. All the blessings I received this past decade (and technically my hold life) are truly a bonus. Being an adopted son of God through the sacrament of Baptism the reception of the graces from the other sacraments is enough. I am thankful for the gift of the Mystery of the Incarnation–God becoming man to bridge the gap between God and man caused by sin. Everything is a bonus from God!