You would think that after 11 moves in 19 years, I would be good at road trips. The truth is I really hate moving, and a two day winter road trip to get to Denver, Colorado for the 2007 Junior Olympics where my son will compete was not as much fun as I would have liked.
There should be a lesson here — and I think that lesson is learning something about leadership, prayer, and patience.
Boy, do I need to go to Confession.
Many men look in the mirror and see what we want to see. We see looks, charm, and spectacularly good leadership. The truth is rarely that clean or that good. I have come to the realization that I am really not very patient, and when it comes to stressful situations I tend to bark orders quite a bit.
Barking orders in a crisis is usually a virtue when the followers are well-trained American Airmen, but it's really not the way to lead a family. Families are well led when the father reflects the Heavenly Father's wisdom and love. I do not recall a single instance when the Creator barked orders at anyone. His commands are firm, and delivered without ambiguity to be sure, but they are never barked like a drill sergeant.
Prayer must be our touchstone, because contact with God makes us better men; but prayer cannot be simply relegated to our private time and personal devotions. We should be changed by our contact with the Divine, and allow that contact to make us better men. To lead a life of prayer is to progressively distill out our impurities, not simply hide them until they boil over because someone is taking too long at a truck stop curio shop.
All this relates, of course, to patience — that virtue I lack. Oh, I should be patient; I've had plenty of practice, but doggone it, I can't help myself sometimes. I like to get on the road and drive; my family would prefer to dawdle. I can't wait to go back to Father in Confession and tell him I did it again. After 41 years I should be better at this.
The truth is, of course, that our wise and generous Creator gave us the Sacraments of the Church as channels of His grace. Just like the Prodigal Son did, we can return to Him any time, and by returning to Him in sacramental Confession, we avail ourselves to the grace His Son infuses into the Church by virtue of His espousal of her. It is the grace that is the thing, and the channels for that grace are the Sacraments.
Thank you, Father, for your abundant love . . . and if it's not too much trouble, may I have a second helping of patience?