A forum of Catholic Thought


Belongings and belonging

Help us expand our reach! Please share this article on social media

Submit a Letter to the Editor

I'm convinced that God will not abandon us on our way. He's made it more than clear that he is with us for the whole trip.

Jaymie Stuart

We wake up most mornings not quite believing that we're here, but it only takes a step outdoors with the dogs to know that we aren't in Boston anymore. New Orleans mornings are warm, and as we walk along the fence the geckos run for cover. I don't know what kinds of trees or plants are growing in our yard. Many of the groceries at our local markets are unfamiliar, and some of the things we're accustomed to don't seem to be widely available. Still, we know that we didn't get here by driving 1,500 miles. God brought us here on his power and grace, not ours.

You know it's God when the walls that close you in become doors open wide in front of you. You know it's God when a glimmer of a thought grows into a plan overnight, one you never expected. You know it's God when the things you decided to keep look like they had always been where you decide to put them, and the dishes that were too tall for your dishwasher when you bought them fit just fine in a place you never imagined you'd be.

God is always doing something new, not because what's old and comfortably familiar is lacking, but because he is always looking for ways to lead us to trust him more deeply. Comfort doesn't usually make us grow in faith. Let's face it: it's easy to become a spiritual couch potato, and develop a been-there-done-that attitude about most things in life when nothing much changes about them. Of course we don't like change. Upsetting our apple carts and disrupting the routines we know we can count on throws us for a loop. Mostly, I think it's because it makes it difficult for us to keep up the appearance of being in control.

Change for the sake of change, though, isn't any better. Sure, there's a thrill that comes with fresh adventure, but novelty only lasts so long before it wears off. Routines develop as we inevitably settle in. Most of us seek comfort until we find it, and we usually do. New things become not-so-new faster than we think.

Andrew and I have a lot to learn about life in Louisiana, and some of those lessons -- like what happens when you disturb a nest of fire ants -- will probably come the hard way. Others, like "fighting the rush hour traffic" on the bridge over the Mississippi River (what traffic?) will be a breeze. I'm convinced that God will not abandon us on our way. He's made it more than clear that he is with us for the whole trip.

I never thought I'd live south of the Mason-Dixon line, nor did I ever expect to voluntarily pick up and move away from a place that's been home for my entire adult life. Strangely, it reminds me of how I felt 35 years ago, when God led me into the Catholic Church. That was also something I never expected, something I never saw coming, but something God had obviously planned.

We've unpacked most of the boxes, but not all. There are still numerous things to hang on the walls, books to organize, doctors to find, and driver's licenses and car registrations to transfer. There is a connection, though, between belongings and belonging. Perhaps more important than anything else, we need to find a new parish home.

We've visited four very different churches since we got here -- St. Augustine, the oldest African American parish in the country; the Cathedral of St. Louis; and two local parishes on the West Bank. There are a few more possibilities we're likely to attend in the coming weeks. I suspect, though, that God has a plan for that, too. There are plenty of full churches here on Sunday mornings. We just have to let the Good Shepherd lead us to the right pasture, and to the flock where we belong.

- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.

Help us expand our reach! Please share this article on social media

Recent articles in the Faith & Family section