Marriage & Family Life: Put in the work to see growth

by Adam Storey | October 12, 2021

Adam Storey

My nine-year-old son has recently decided that someday he’s going to play in the NFL as a wide receiver.

This leads to fun conversations over breakfast, where we’ll discuss attractive teams and how to approach contract negotiations. It has also led to a daily training regimen of push-ups, pull-ups, and routes in the backyard. I’m his quarterback for now, and I’m bad enough that the theory is if he can catch a pass from me, then he could catch a pass from anyone.

At first, my son’s plan seemed far-fetched, but I’ve been impressed with his commitment to daily workouts, and it’s been fun to see him get stronger and more confident.

The NFL might still not be in the cards (or maybe it is), but I have no doubt that with his daily practice he has a lot of fun and success in his future.

This got me thinking about the spiritual life, and how important daily effort is to growth.

We recognize how important daily work is for athletes, musicians, and employees, but we often forget that truth when it comes to the most important aspect of our lives, our faith.

Now I admit, the spiritual life is different, since it is always primarily about grace, not effort. Yet we do have a part to play. Our commitment matters, and if we aren’t willing to put in the work, we shouldn’t expect to see growth.

In the spiritual life, this translates to a commitment to prayer and conversion. And even though saying “put in the work” is certainly an oversimplification, there is some truth to it.

Concretely this will look very different for each person, but it could include a commitment to a daily time of prayer (I’d suggest at least 15 minutes), a daily examination of conscience, celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation at least every month, weekly Mass, and regular fasting.

There is no one way to live in relationship with God, but like every relationship it requires frequent communication and regular effort. 

My son’s commitment has impressed me, but it’s also challenged me because just like everyone else I can tend to cut corners in my spiritual life. Moving forward I hope I can commit to the effort it takes for daily growth, and I will continue to beg for the grace to make it so.  

Adam Storey is the diocesan director of Marriage & Family Life. He can be reached at or 515-237-5056.

Adam Storey

Adam Storey leads the Marriage Ministry Department for the Diocese of Des Moines, which seeks to work with parishes and couples, walking with all families in all their stages, in their joys and sorrows, their celebrations and challenges.