“God has created me to do Him some definite service.” Those words came from Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified this September. He continues “I have my mission. I may not know what it is in this life but I shall be told in the next. . . He has not created me for naught. . . Wherever I am, whatever I do, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still God knows what He is about.”
Those words apply not only to us, but also to our children. One of the roles of a parent is to help a child discern his or her vocation, not only in terms of marriage or religious life, but job choice as well. I’ve been reading You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado. The whole point of the book is that God has given you a specific purpose and the gifts to fulfill that purpose. The key to finding joy in life is to look at your gifts and figure out where you belong. And so, as my children grow up, I try to look at their gifts and steer them in the right direction.
I know that the final decision of what they do with their lives resides with them. They will no doubt take several career paths in their lives. This process is made more complicated by the fact that my older son has some recently diagnosed special needs. We always knew he was “different,” that life was a little harder for him than for other kids (and by extension, for us). Yet, the formal diagnosis of that fact has caused me to reevaluate his future. What is possible for him? Where will life take him?
He asked me “Why did God make me this way?” It broke my heart. It hurts to know that you are different simply by virtue of your birth. It hurts to see your child hurting. I had no good answer except to tell him that God made him that way for a reason, that he does have a special purpose in this world. While, at this moment, I’m not sure what that is, like Cardinal John Henry Newman, I trust that God knows what he is doing.