He Uses Our ‘Worst’ to Bring Out Our Best

Dr. Kimberly Shankman, dean of Benedictine College, was featured in Magnificat this month reflecting on the promise of the Holy Spirit and the accident that on March 14, 2013, left her son disabled.  An excerpt follows.

After the accident that left my son totally disabled, I pondered on what it really means to open the way for the Holy Spirit. My son was a warm, funny, ornery, occasionally obnoxious teenager. In the twinkling of an eye, that person was gone and I mourned him — I wanted him back.

The Ascension helps me make sense of this. It shows the pattern for God’s action in the world. Before, the disciples could see Christ’s power only in his presence; the worst thing they could imagine was his absence. The Ascension allowed them to stop clinging to his physical presence. It opened the door for them to go forth and remake the world.

Our “worst” can be the gateway to unimaginable blessings.

Before the accident, the worst thing I could imagine was my son with a brain injury. Now, though, I see it differently. We are surrounded by love and support; my son knows, without question, that he is loved unconditionally; and many people — even those we’ve never met — tell us that praying for him has brought us closer to Christ.

The Holy Spirit chose a particularly dramatic way to demonstrate it, by letting go of my vision of my son’s future and instead trusting the merciful providence that guides us has been the gateway and our lives are abundantly blessed.

Kimberly Shankman

Kimberly Shankman is the Dean of Benedictine College. She received her PhD in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. Subsequently she taught in the Politics and Government Department at Ripon College from 1985-2001, when she left to take her current position at Benedictine College. Her research interests are American political thought and constitutional law. She is the author of Compromise and the Constitution: The Political Thought of Henry Clay. Additionally, she has published articles relating to the privileges or immunities clause of the 14th amendment and other aspects of constitutional law. She spoke recently on “Truth and Democracy” at the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, and on “Human Capital in Caritas in Veritate” at Columbia University in New York.