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MAN OF THE HOUSE | Jesus relentlessly pursues our hearts even in the midst of change

Life here on earth never really can just pause, can it?

In March 2020, a certain boy already measured as the tallest in his sixth-grade class at 5 feet 3 inches. Now, as a 13-year-old eighth-grader, my eldest grandson towers over me at 6 foot 1 inch. He still may be a grade-schooler with plenty of boyish traits, but anyone who meets him sees a fine young man.

My three other grandkids have grown the last 20 months, too. Taller, sure, but they’ve also increased their vocabularies, developed unique personalities, sharpened their intellects.

Those changes are expected, of course. Still, it seems like there has been too much change to handle in what feels like such a relatively short period of time.

Many pages of the calendar have flipped over. It’s just that something about life feels like it shouldn’t have budged an inch.

When will things be back to normal? Who else is wondering?

A line in one of my favorite songs says “if there’s one thing God has promised, things are gonna change.” I’m not positive if that’s true, but the Gospel of Matthew does quote Jesus as saying heaven and earth will pass away. That’s about the biggest change imaginable.

Until March 2020 came along, right? Like many other people around the world, I thought we’d just push a “pause” button on life when we first heard about this novel coronavirus. Then we’d push “play” when we felt like we were ready.

We’re still waiting for COVID-19 to fade away, but it really doesn’t matter.

Life didn’t come with a pause button. It kept on playing.

I mean, if you are struggling with any change in mind, body or spirit — maybe even all three — you might want to consider that God actually has launched changes throughout the pandemic.

“To live is to change,” St. John Henry Newman said, “and to be perfect is to change often.”

No matter what the saint says, if unrelenting change keeps catching you unprepared and unwelcoming …. you’re not alone.

Totally unrelated to COVID-19, one of my uncles died of a stroke, two of my aunts were diagnosed with cancer and one of my most treasured friends (age 59) died of cancer. Among people I know … couples got engaged, some married, others had babies. People bought houses, rescued pets, lost jobs and gained new ones, had serious surgery, ended marriages, fought suffocating loneliness, extended sobriety, gave in to the pull of an addiction.

Mass moved from church to online; many people didn’t make that move. Mass has moved back to church; some haven’t returned — and may never.

So much feels different. So much to worry about.

“I the Lord do not change,” God whispers (Malachi 3:6).

People argue with each other so much more, even seem to hate each other, including within the Church. What can keep us together after this terrible period?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” comes a louder whisper (Hebrews 13:8).

He, as David said, can be our strength in times of distress, our rock when all around us is mysteriously transforming, our savior when we feel like we are plummeting into a scary abyss.

It turns out that while we’ve been wanting life to get back to the way it was, He has been waiting for us to abandon that thought. He hasn’t forgotten us. And He doesn’t wait the way we do — passively, obstinately, joylessly. He has relentlessly pursued us … you … me … every minute of every day.

Give up waiting for “normal.” It never existed, and it never will. So how to cope while dealing with what is simply life?

“The past does not belong to me; the future is not mine,” St. Faustina said. “With all my soul, I try to make use of the present moment.”

My eighth-grade grandson is preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. His brother is preparing to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion.

Thank God life doesn’t have a pause button.

Eisenbath is a parishioner at St. Cletus Parish in St. Charles.

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