I am grieving for a man I have never met.
The news of this man’s death came in the middle of the work day, and as I processed through the many swirling emotions from this news, I began to recognize where my own emotional response was coming from – the root of my response, if you will.
This man is the father of a person who is very close with my family. He’s the father of someone I admire for strength, perseverance, bravery, and fidelity to God’s will. This man has many children, all of them still practicing the Catholic Faith faithfully.
I was – and am – shocked at how this man’s loss on the world has impacted me personally, having never met him.
As I sat in daily Mass after hearing the news, I held my sleeping little boy and watched my eldest going through motions of Mass that he had never done unprompted before. I began marveling at the way our lives impact others – those we meet in person, and those we may never meet.
Our society lives in a time where we rush everything. We want instant gratification, and we want to be everywhere, do everything, and see everything. Rarely do we sit down, take a breath, and simply existwith our thoughts, with our prayers, with our families. We live in the “here and now,” trying to be all and do all for everyone. And, we sometimes have a tendency to forget about the larger picture.
Simply put, eternity is our larger picture.
Heaven is our larger picture.
God is our larger picture.
From the day we are born, we desire something more, and we spend most of our childhood and adult lives seeking that “more.” Yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise when it is argued that we will never be fully satisfied and filled on this side of eternity. We exist for but a blink, on this earth. Eternity is vastly greater than our here and now.
However, if we are to set our sights on eternity, as Hal Moore reminded us to do, then we must first recognize how the “here and now” should effect everythingwe do, and everything we are.
God has called each of us to greatness. He has chosen each of us for this time in history, and asked us to trust His judgment by handing over our own desires, to let His plan unfold.
Our lives, as they are today, are preciselyhow He asks us to grow closer to Him.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 states,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
How does this guidance manifest in our lives?
For unmarried individuals, it’s by being faithful to God’s call to focusing on your education, your career, your home life, etc.
For married couples, it’s by strengthening your marriage, focusing on the spiritual, emotional, and physical needsof each other, rather than the desires for bigger and greater.
For parents, God’s will manifests by living bravely as you form your children in spiritual matters, just as much as you focus on giving them their own heart’s desires.
Our commitment to God throughout our various roles in our lives is what will set us apart from others; it will also be how we are most tested, and how we ultimately grow closer to God.
As I considered the man I had never had the opportunity to meet, and his surprising impact on my life, I began to recognize each of us have that opportunity to impact countless others we may never meet.
Just like we have the opportunity to pass along our genetic makeup to our children, and our physical traits to the generations that come after, so too do we have the opportunity to pass along the lessons of what we value most in life.
At the end of my life, I don’t want the biggest house, the best car, or, as much as I may joke, all the chocolate in the world.
Rather, I want the values of loyalty, love, faithfulness, and peace to be seen in the ones I leave behind. I want my children’s children to know that their parents learned how to love God, and be faithful to God, through the actions and prayer of their grandparents.
I want my children to have the faith in God as an ever-present, loving Father, when they can no longer pick up the phone to call me.
There is so much pain, anger, and despair in today’s society. Yet, how much of that can be mitigated by a return to the basics? How much of the pain, anger, and despair can be countered with the focus on knowing and loving God, and trying to be faithful to Hiswill, rather than our own? How much can be balanced when we consider the way we want to impact not just our daily lives, but with a focus on the ones we will leave behind at the end?
If we are focusing on what we want our future generations to know about us, how are we letting it guide our actions today?
Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of the man I have never met. Please join me in lifting up his family and friends in prayer as they grieve their loss.
And, please join me in rejoicing always, praying unceasingly, and giving thanks to God – for He, and His will, is always good. Let us use this faith to turn to the One Who simply desires a relationship with us, to grow closer to Him.
Let us commit to living for eternity, by shaping the actions of our “here and now.”
AnnAliese is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris and mother to their two young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. Since the birth of her children, she has dedicated her time to volunteering with Army Community Services and several military chapel communities. As a cradle-Catholic, AnnAliese has been active in the Church since she was a child. As an adult, she has spent time serving as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She also blogs about topics of Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. You can also follow her on Twitter @BeautifulCamoMe, on Instagram at beautifulcamouflagedmess, or on Facebook at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life.