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Elizabeth Reardon shares how she and her husband learned to let go of their own expectations and embrace the ones God had for them.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,  who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) 

I’d venture to say that each of us has experienced disappointment numerous times in our lives. There are the daily goals that don’t work out the way we had planned or expected, as well as those milestone moments that either shape us or rock our world. Sometimes both. Yet how we understand and overcome disappointment is key to any way forward. Otherwise, we may find ourselves stuck in our imagined happiness rather than open to the happiness and joy that God truly desires for us, the fruits of which we might not realize until much later in life. 

When my then-fiancé and I were in our undergraduate years, we began to map out and plan our life together. We knew that, as an ROTC officer candidate, he would have a corresponding service commitment, one we were happy to give. So we prayed for his choice of branch and active duty … well, one out of two isn’t bad.  You see, active duty would have afforded a more certain path in terms of job and home security—and for a newly married couple that was very attractive. With a top score on his flight-school entrance exam, he received his choice of branch, but to our surprise was not slotted for an active-duty assignment.  

Wait, did they not know of our readiness to serve? Did they not see his potential to lead? Oh, and what of our prayers … why did they go unanswered? 




Then it hit me: in the course of our prayers, we always ended every petition and prayer with "THY WILL BE DONE." If we truly meant this, then we had to take comfort that God was looking at our potential and journey and rerouting us to where He knew we needed to be.  

Why? Because we had asked Him to do so. We had invited God to the final say, and now we needed to get on board with the new coordinates and let go of what might have been. When we did so, I have to say, God has never ceased to surprise us! 

Through my husband’s time in the Guard and Reserve, we were given many opportunities to lead soldiers and their families in that same discernment process of time and service. Sudden deployment activation held many concerns for the men and women who had never wanted active-duty status. When they were unexpectedly thrust overseas in tenuous and dangerous situations, we prayed for each of them and their safety. And again, at the end of every decade, we prayed that it be God’s will.


Click to tweet:
We had invited God to the final say, and now we needed to get on board with the new coordinates and let go of what might have been. #CatholicMom


But don’t just listen to me; here is a bit of wit and wisdom from others. 

Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel. (G.K. Chesterton) 


Chesterton began his writing career not as a college English major, but unexpectedly as an art student and critic. Renowned for being absent-minded, he often relied on his wife and secretary to help him with the details in life.  




The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (Thomas Merton) 


Long considered a spiritual authority on Trappist contemplation and Christian spirituality, Merton himself initially wanted to be a Franciscan. His writings advocating peace, justice,  and religious tolerance remain a continual call to live out our Christian faith in the world around us. 

If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time. We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen. And as soon as we listen to what’s going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves. ... The best way to pray is: Stop. Let prayer pray within you, whether you know it or not. (Thomas Merton) 




If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted on to Christ’s life, his cross and resurrection. That is a person’s measure. (Saint Oscar Romero) 


Oscar Romero’s appointment as bishop of San Salvador is said to have been met with great disappointment by his fellow priests and colleagues. And still with ever-growing unrest, poverty, and violence in San Salvador, Romero heard and responded to his calling with holiness and unbelievable fortitude. With this passionate shepherd and martyr for the faith, we learn where our true hope lies. 

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us? (Servant of God Dorothy Day) 




Copyright 2023 Elizabeth Reardon
Images: Canva