Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 246
May 19, 1997

Give Us the Courage


"How about her?" "No, she's going steady." "And her?" "OK, we'll fix it up." I had once again engaged in my high school dating ritual.

For over four years my choice of dates was determined by the yearbook of St. Joseph girl's high school. My best friend and his girl friend, both Roman Catholics and parochial school attendees, used this means to make our weekends a foursome. It was convenient, it was easy it was wonderful.

It was also debilitating, in that a couple of years after high school, having decided to go into the ministry, I became aware that only dating Roman Catholics was not a practical thing to do. (Today, that would not be as critical an issue.) Thus, I decided to break the years-long pattern. It was a terribly tough time.

Where are dateable girls to be found? How does one talk to a girl to which one has not been introduced? How does one ask for a date? Whatever knowledge and skill I may once have had atrophied over the years, and months of dateless weekends began to accumulate. Overcoming the temptation to revert to the past pattern took great personal effort because, in addition to the absence of dates, my non­dating regular friendships began to shift as well. I discovered the real cost of personal change.

I think of that experience when I hear someone off­handedly state that others should "get their lives together," by getting off welfare, or stopping drinking or taking drugs, or making other major life changes. It is so easy to advise others, not aware that it may mean a complete change of habits, friendships, and often many, many lonely hours, nights and weekends.

From a relatively mild personal experience, I have learned to have great admiration for all those who struggle to make changes in their lives, and I have great compassion for those who find the struggle beyond their strength.

The famous Serenity Prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr has a line which states "God grant us the courage to change the things which should be changed." Courage, indeed.


--Robert H. Tucker
19 May 1997


© Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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