We have, each of us, our own journey. Everyone will hit that final wall they cannot go through, or that final door they must walk through. And each of us will have to face our ends all alone. The pathway we take is unique to each of us. But as Elder Paisios reminds us in the photo above, “Without toil and struggle, sanctification doesn’t come.”
I find, that especially as a homeschooling mother, I am privy to much more of my children’s lives than if I had enrolled them in a government or private school. Having your children around you 24/7 is not something our culture can relate to, nor do they generally support it. I was blessed to homeschool my older sons until they chose to attend parochial high schools. We encouraged and supported them in their choices and are fairly happy with how it has all turned out, now that they are married and in their 20s, with their own children. My older sons went on to colleges – one chose the military after obtaining his AA and the other chose to complete his BA in History. Both were/are happy with their choices, but each chose radically different paths to adulthood.
Each of our older sons has had their own version of toil and struggle and each has come to a similar place. And it has been so interesting, listening to each of them separately say the same things. One man’s journey can greatly differ from another man’s, but they are both headed towards that same ultimate goal – sanctification. As they were growing up and trying to discern what they wanted to do with their lives, I remarked to them (on more than one occasion) that I would be happy if they chose to become trash collectors; I would just hope and pray they would become the holiest trash collectors they could be. How they get their paychecks and what they do to earn their money is superfluous to me! I am more concerned with what type of man they become, than what they do for a living. And each of our sons has journeyed to where they are, in their own ways. I can honestly say that in the past 24 hours, I have grown to love and adore my sons so much more. The conversations we have had about life, their goals in life, and the ways in which they are pursuing them, have gladdened my heart. The goal of parents is to lead your children to the path that ultimately leads to God, to sanctification in heaven. They will have struggles and they will toil, but without it, they would flounder.
This morning’s conversations have only made me smile. I smile because I can feel God moving in our lives and I know that all of these things are from Him, and are for our good. We have been given an opportunity to make drastic changes, but we have also been given the opportunity to struggle on our way, to make our way, towards God with our heads clear and our hearts certain! What a joy that is! O Lord, we are so blessed. There are many, many details that still must be worked through for all of us…and even though those details can seem to bog us down in our daily lives, it is through struggling through them and keeping our eye on our ultimate goal, that we are blessed. People have said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” about aging, and some days it can really feel like we are piling on the mileage. And today, even though I know God has lots of little details still waiting for me to pray about and work on solving, I am smiling. I smile because I know I am blessed and I know in my heart we are moving in concert with our family (as the people we have become) and with our God. What a great day!
Our paths are divergent as we struggle through them, but we all come together along the journey towards God. And knowing and feeling God working in our lives and in the lives of our children makes today a very good day!
From the Akathist to the Mother of God, “Nurturer of Children,” I take these quotes:
“…O Lord, set them on the true path of Thy commandments and enlighten their minds with the Light of Christ unto salvation of their souls and the healing of their bodies….
O Heavenly Father, order the fate of my children according to Thy blessing; do not deprive them in this life of their daily bread, send down to them in due time all that is necessary for the acquisition of blessings in eternity….
..chastise them and have mercy on them, but turn not Thy face away from them. Turn not Thy face from them in the day of their tribulation, that they may not fall into temptations beyond their strength. Cover them with Thy Mercy, that Thine Angel may walk with them and preserve them. Abandon not my children, O Lord, and give them that which is profitable for salvation.” Amen