Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

An Essay on Young Adulthood

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I recently had a very brief but meaningful conversation with an old friend. We had not talked for months and even now it seemed we could only find a few minutes in our busy schedules to sit down and video-chat. We caught up on new jobs and showed each other around our new homes. Both young adults, we had a number of new things happening in our lives.

I have many friends who are going through "transitions," whether that be into priesthood, parenthood, married life, full-time employment, life in new cities, or new lives back in the same city. With all of this transition comes a sense of uncertainty. Did I pick the job that is the best fit? Did I make the right decision in moving away? In moving back? Am I on the right path?

I have no doubt that most people go through this stage in their life. Most likely, we go through this stage of "transitions" multiple times - it might be at the beginning of adulthood, when the kids move out and head to college, when we retire, or when we lose someone close to us or face another unforeseen circumstance. Each stage, each "transition," hopefully makes us stronger and more able to face the next.

Every single night since we have been married (which has been just over a year and half), my wife has asked me: "What has been your favorite part of the day?" right before I fall asleep at night. Most nights I answer something simple like "dinner with you" or "the nice weather."

And other times I can be rather smug and answer, "My pillow and the fact that I am going to sleep." No matter my answer, she keeps asking. And some days it causes me to pause and share thanks for a meaningful conversation that helped me find stable ground in a life of transition.

There is no doubt that most of the time during our life journey of transitions, a few encouraging words goes a long way. But, how often do we look at someone who is having difficulty with something new or unforeseen and say, "I have been there," then share that often-maligned-yet-all-too-common unsolicited advice about how to get through it?

I do it, and we all do from time to time. We especially like to respond this way with people who are closest to us. We already know them and have spent hours working hard to support them. Our advice, then, should be considered and graciously received.

Is there a way, though, especially with those who are closest to us, to change "I have been there" to "I am with you now"? We all face transitions and new circumstances that challenge who we are and what we want to become. Sometimes these shake us badly and we find ourselves diving into the sort of depth that forms character, builds or breaks relationships, and gives perspective that forms our future choices.

I do think that my wife's question every night is a nod to her constant and stable presence in my current transitional life (and hers). It is a simple outreach that reminds me to be grateful and focus on the parts of life that are going well.

One of my favorite saints, St. Francis de Sales, in one of his writings, shares an encouraging image of a God that holds us by the hand, matching His steps to ours and happy to walk at the pace we set. Perhaps to all of us who have been through it and to those of us who are going through it now, this image is one to encourage us on the journey. In those moments where we are tempted to say "I have been there," it reminds us that God always says, "I am with you now." 

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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