Struggle is necessary in this life Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Jul. 13, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

Slowly, slowly, with back hunched over and knees bent up toward the handlebars, my six-year-old daughter trudged on her big-wheeled tricycle toward the grocery store to get popsicles.

So adamant was she about not trying her two-wheeled bicycle that she resorted to a preschooler vehicle to reach her destination.

Swallowing my usual remarks during such displays of tenacity, I patiently walked beside her, giving her a push now and then up the slopes, then gently reminded her that when she masters her two-wheeler, she will not struggle so much.

Helping His children

I laughed inside as I envisioned how God must do the very same thing with each of us.

So often we are set in our own ways, our own paths, that we fail to see His bigger picture, one that means we will no longer have to struggle so long and so hard.

How wonderful to have a Father who has the vision for us, who can see the bigger picture when we cannot. And how very little each of us is, how very, very limited is our vision, that we cannot see Our Father's bigger picture.

So often I need to remind myself to pray for a glimpse into that greater vision, that bigger picture, for I am much too small to see it. But I can imagine how much Our Father waits patiently for each of us to ask.

God helps when we are 'stuck'

Someday -- soon, perhaps -- I know my daughter will tire of bumping her knees against the handlebars, of struggling uphill on plastic wheels meant for a three-year-old. She is currently "stuck in a rut," as they say, content to churn her wheels, literally, in a place she is marginally comfortable.

But as a parent, I assure her about how much more freedom she will have, how much more comfortable she will be once she delves into the unknown and gives her two-wheeler a try.

"But I'm afraid, Mama," my daughter says. "I'm afraid I will fall."

"Yes, indeed, you may fall," I tell her honestly, "but I will be right here to help you, and once you get the hang of it, you will not worry so much about falling."

Doesn't Our Heavenly Father reassure us of the very same things in our own hearts?

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).

A leap of faith

Take that leap of faith, God tells us in our hearts. He promises that He will be at our side always. Know that in the long run, though there is struggle and suffering and training in between, in the end it will be so much better if you follow His will. As proven by our experiences time and time and time again, if we can align our will with Our Father's, how much happier we will be in our lives.

So, if it is God's will, grab your own two-wheeler by the handles. Know that you may fall. It is through the falls that we grow stronger, wiser, tougher.

"It's ok to struggle," a wise friend once told me. "Sometimes it's necessary."

In fact, according to St. Josemaria Escriva, we must indeed struggle constantly in our spiritual lives. "It is inevitable that we should meet difficulties on our way. If we did not come up against obstacles, we would not be creatures of flesh and blood" (Christ is Passing By, 75).

"The greatest danger for a Christian is to underestimate the importance of fighting skirmishes. The refusal to fight the little battles can, little by little, leave him soft, weak, and indifferent, insensitive to the accents of God's voice . . . We cannot take it easy. Our Lord wants us to fight more, on a broader front, more intensely each day. We have an obligation to outdo ourselves, for in this competition the only goal is to arrive at the glory of heaven" (Christ is Passing By, 77).

Know that in your spiritual and everyday struggles God is right there at your side to lift you up and guide you back on the right path. So it has always been. So it will always be.

Just as we strive to gently guide our own children through their struggles, so God does the same with each of us. Patiently. Lovingly. And when we are ready.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.