Discipleship In All Ways: Rewind, Fast Forward, Pause

January 13, 2021

“Tell God to rewind the day. I want to try again.” My four-year-old daughter sobbed uncontrollably in the parking lot of her preschool. After a mishap in the lining up for COVID-safe dismissal, she could not calm down enough to walk out with everyone else. After 20-minutes, one of the Sisters carried her to my car as she continued to cry. We talked about the pajama day and hot cocoa party they had, the special treats for the last day, and finally the incident that had upset her so much. The whole time we were sitting in the now-emptied parking lot, she kept saying she wanted God to rewind her day so she could start over. She wanted her friends (who are now long gone) to come back to school; she wanted to rewind and change the course of the day.

How often have we also wanted to rewind our day? I wish it were that easy. I judged a situation without having all the facts. I reacted angrily instead of listening longer to better understand.  I snapped at my husband and kids because I am tired and stressed. I wish I had been more productive over the weekend. I regret the things I put off in January and February of 2020 that were no longer possible come March. Rewind, start over, try again. 

At other times I just want to fast-forward to when things will be possible again. I want to fast-forward to the end of this never-ending pandemic, the drudgery of working from home with three energetic kids. I look at the mountain of laundry to fold and put away. The same sippy cup seems to be on the counter no matter how many times I wash it. The two hours of remote learning for first grade seems to take five. I can’t tackle this same ToDo list one more time. I want to fast-forward through the constant interruptions, fear, discomfort, and anxiety that made up 2020. Fast-forward to when I can volunteer at the Valentine’s Day parties in my kids’ classrooms, to the long-delayed celebration of my sister’s marriage, to waiting in a long line at Disneyland for my son to see the new Star Wars land (which we were supposed to do for his March 2020 birthday).

This week, the Catholic liturgical calendar moved out of the Christmas season and officially into “Ordinary Time.” We resume the rhythm of our pandemic survival: school, work, virtual Cub Scouts, Zoom ballet classes. From Sunday to Sunday, we put one foot in front of the other. I wake up hopeful and often find myself discouraged throughout the day: one more dish, one more load of laundry, one more email, one more Zoom. I wish I could rewind and do better, fast-forward to the quiet (maybe?) waiting at the end of the day. Both instincts come from the same root: the desire to escape. I want to flee the uncomfortable feelings and the disappointment, in myself and others. Maybe you are feeling this way, too?

Christmas has reminded us that God was born into messiness, fear, and discomfort. God lives not just in the Church buildings and pilgrimage sites, but also in the school parking lot and my laundry room. God joins me as I do the dishes, practice counting to 100, and reminds me that I can’t rewind or fast-forward. When I discover my daughter coloring all over her shoes, I can try to imagine the child Jesus playing alongside her. I am trying to live that call to discipleship, to be guided by Christ, in my own house and in my daily life. 

Discipleship is not just about tending to my own interior world (no matter how important that personal work is). I seek peace and centeredness so I can see beyond my own four walls. God’s people are crying out for hope and healing. Trusting in God’s goodness and provident care does not mean I turn a blind eye to that reality. Rather, it compels me to look more deeply into it and see this moment as an integral chapter in the paschal mystery. 

God is inviting me to do something as a disciple. At the very least, God is softening my heart and purifying my own self-preoccupation. I find myself angry at how willing some are to separate our communities into those deserving and those undeserving of compassion and care. When I see the long lines of cars awaiting meal distribution at our local Churches, I imagine the Holy Family, tired and worn out from their own journey. When I read about massive COVID outbreaks in California jails, I imagine Christ imprisoned alongside these men and women. I am challenged to greater solidarity. To be a disciple of Christ is to allow myself to be shaped by Christ’s dying and rising in my daily life and in the lives of those around me.

 

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

 

Jen has a bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University is in History with minors in Secondary Education and Philosophy. She then went on to receive a Masters in Pastoral Theology with a specialization in Spiritual Direction. She has created formation materials, discernment tools, and small group processes that are being used around the country in Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and English. Along with Fr. Tri Dinh, S.J., she co-founded Christus Ministries. Jen continues to write and research for Christus Ministries, particularly around best practices in young family faith development. Jen works for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California as the Associate Director of Mission Advancement. Jen, Jason, and their three children live in Southern California.

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2 Comments

  1. JSAC

    What a beautiful reflection, thank you. I am reminded of the moments and months after my son died by suicide. Like your daughter, I cried and cried, wishing I could rewind, redo and replace something in the past to change things for the better. Not possible.

    Yet, there is prayer, forgiveness and love in this moment! In a vision, I heard our Lord’s voice and saw my son in His presence. God continues to help me grow my faith and gain strength to say NO to sin. We may not get the “do- over” but EVERY DAY we have an opportunity to love and support someone. I’ll take it!

    Reply
  2. MadeleneC

    So often I want to rewind to my favorite times in my life: my carefree youth, my unencumbered young adulthood, the sweet, fleeting months of new motherhood. At the same time, I want to fast-forward past potty training, pouty six year olds, and the endless laundry piles. This reflection reminds me to see the beauty and goodness right in front of me. Thank you!

    Reply

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