Sticking with it
Sister Judith Sutera, OSB
I just returned from giving a retreat on the theme of “stability.” Benedictines use the word when we proclaim our commitment in making monastic profession.
At its base, it refers to the promise to stay in the same community with the same people forever. But the concept is much deeper, wider and richer than just being in a place. We often refer to someone as being “mentally stable” or praise the advantages of a “stable home environment” for a child. It’s about steadiness, solidness, the ability to accept in a healthy way whatever comes along.
Whether in joining a religious community or in starting a family through marriage, one has to make the decision that this relationship is worth staying with. This spouse or these community members are the people with whom I am willing to spend the rest of my life. Stability is the only way it is possible to make progress in life. We have to stick around for the long haul in order for good things to happen, whether it is getting an education, maintaining a family, completing a creative work, or any of the other achievements worth having.
Spiritual growth happens when we have an ongoing relationship not only with God but with other people. It is through our human relationships that we become better human beings. Our culture is so mobile and opportunity-driven that there is a great temptation to just move on when life becomes challenging. Whether by moving to another place, breaking up with partners, or just creating a new narrative for one’s online identity, it is pretty easy to drop what we’ve been doing and re-invent ourselves.
When we commit to long-term, stable relationships we can’t keep ducking and dodging the truth about ourselves. Furthermore, we actually begin to realize that we don’t want to avoid the truth. Let’s say you have some bad habit or weakness that your parents reminded you of frequently. You made some efforts but it was still an issue for teachers. Then, you grow up and along comes a significant friendship or love interest. When that person brings up the problem, it immediately jumps to the top of your to-do list. Why? Because you want to be the best person you can be for that other person. It’s distressing to think that you might be causing that person discomfort or pain or just plain old irritation. You want to face anything that might disappoint that person and you want to put the energy into making needed changes. That’s sticking with it.
It’s the same with God. As we grow in our faith relationship, we realize that God truly loves us and will stick with us no matter what, but God really wants us to be the best persons we can be. If we keep reading scripture and conversing with God in prayer, we will come to understand that we have imperfections, or sins if you want to call them that, that God wishes for us to work on so that we can be happy and whole. Knowing how God loves us will make us want to love more, make us want to stick to this path and do more of the things God wants.
The great thing about the relationship with God is that no matter how far we run or how much we might try to be someone we’re not, God is always committed to us and always right there. God is the ultimate stability and always waits for us, promises to love us, accepts us wherever and however we are. That’s a love worth sticking with.
Editor's note: Sisters from Mount St. Scholastica write a weekly column titled "View from the Mount" in our hometown newspaper, the Atchhison Globe. This column appeared in the 10-20-16 edition of the Globe."