The following excerpt is from Adam Grand, a Seton Teaching Fellow with Cohort 9 (2022-2023 school year). He teaches at Brilla Caritas Elementary in the North Bronx, NYC. Adam is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas – Minnesota, where he pursued a degree in Philosophy and Catholic studies, shared his gifts as a catechist and religious instructor, and served as a Totus Tuus missionary for the diocese. In this short reflection, Adam shares how the professional development and faith formation he has received as a Seton Teaching Fellow helped him to grow in his pursuit of the Lord.
Before beginning my year as a Fellow, I was suffering from an acute and subtle kind of despair. It arose from the fact that I wanted to do God’s will at every moment of my life. Naturally, this is a good and holy desire—but like all good things, it can be disordered. The enemy twisted this desire in my mind to the point that I was anxiously questioning whether every single choice I made was agreeable with God’s will. I was seeking God in every thing that I did, but I looked in the wrong places and wasn’t convinced that He was actually with me. I was despairing of God’s presence while simultaneously thirsting for His presence.
When I committed myself to year of mission, something that helped me reorient myself was the formation I received as a Seton Teaching Fellow. We utilize a program called OptimalWork, which helps people to better control their attitude, their attention, and their stamina so as to work with more fulfillment and creativity. I’ll be honest that—at first—I was skeptical of OptimalWork and it’s premise; however, I have to admit that its been a serious boon and has changed the way I live.
One of the fundamental practices that has helped me the most is called Reframing, which is the process of deliberately finding opportunity for growth and goodness in a challenge that was previously viewed as a threat. Let me give you an example: teaching is a challenging job, and one of the difficulties you might face is managing a rowdy group of students to bring order to your classroom. When I first started working with children, if I viewed the challenges of teaching as a threat, I became anxious, I dreaded the task, I proceeded with dragging feet. However, when I discover the opportunity present in the challenge (e.g. teaching this class is an opportunity to grow in classroom management skills and sincerely love my students), I actually become excited about the challenge. I can recognize the grace that God is offering me in the present situation.
This method of reframing extends beyond the classroom, and it helped me clarify my search for God in the everyday.
Rather than approaching my choices as if God is hiding somewhere and I need to find Him, I have learned to seek the opportunity in all things (especially difficult things). I’m not searching just for comfort and consolation that assures me of His presence, but for the suffering and challenges that call me closer to Him. When I find the opportunity in something, I am finding the grace that God is offering me.
Maybe today God offers me the opportunity to grow in patience with my students. Tomorrow, God may offer me the opportunity to grow in fidelity to my morning routine. On Saturday, God may offer me the opportunity to grow in joyful friendship with someone I care about. Whatever the opportunity for growth or for loving service, the opportunity signifies the presence of God to me. While Christ is surely present in other ways, and perhaps in innumerable ways that I cannot understand, He has made Himself known to me this year by offering me opportunities to grow and live a more complete and virtuous life.
As I continue to be formed as a Christian man throughout my year of service, I no longer despair of God’s presence — I rejoice in His presence. I no longer seek His will outside myself — I wait for His will to present itself through the opportunities placed in front of me. I no longer fear making choices — I revel in God’s gift of personal freedom. Thanks be to God, who has opened my eyes to better see His presence in the world. I am excited to look around at all of the challenges and opportunities before me and joyfully proclaim: “It is the Lord!”
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