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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Integrity - the dirty little secret of lonely people

I am once again confronted with the idea that choosing a life of integrity may lead to a solitary existence.

And once more I am intrigued with the push/pull we have in this culture with this idea of integrity.

What exactly do I mean?

I made a huge mistake, stone cold sober, about 12 years ago. The mistake almost cost me my sobriety and came even closer to costing me the fellowship I have found in the 12 Step program that brought me Home to Rome. Then personal pain, the blow to my pride and the flat out embarrassment I felt as a result of a choice I made brought me to a Watershed Moment. I was forced to look at the simple phrase "God is either all or God is nothing" and decide whether I was going to believe it or not.

I chose to believe it.

The result of that choice was I made the decision to become fully Catholic, rather than a cafeteria style Catholic. I began to study my Faith, to recognize the beauty of the spirituality offered to me by Jesus Christ and the Church He founded. I was drawn to Truth, and like the budding Dominican I was could not reject it once I recognized it even though I did not always understand or even like what I discovered.

Later, of course, I realized that what I did not like was based solely on my fear of being rejected by the majority. I am, if nothing else, a coward. Of myself and by myself I would much rather be loved by the majority than the few - I wanna be popular, doncha know - but when I rekindled the graces given to me at my Baptism and Confirmation I found the strength to stand up and willfully, totally and completely chose Christ in the Eucharist beyond any political agenda, social niceties or perceived prejudices of the the community at large.

It suddenly mattered more to me that I spend eternity in heaven than be happy here on earth.

Since that time I have lost a lot of people I thought would love me forever. I am no longer their cup of tea. I held them to promises they were incapable of keeping and refuse to alter my morals to accommodate their bad behavior. I have not been mean about it and I have not been angry about it - I have been hurt and I have not always reacted well to the rejection but I accept it for what it is and I go forward.

But every once in awhile.....

The past few days has been another lesson in integrity - how my not living a life based on the Rock that is my foundation makes me an empty gong, but my choosing to build my house on that Rock means I feel lonely and overlooked and rejected.

What I think it is, honestly, is the age old spiritual battle. Humans are created for community. When we feel cut off from community it is the perfect crack in the armor, the easiest place for Ol' Red Legs (as my Cajun family would call him) to blow smoke of insecurity into the house, that house I am building on The Rock.

Maybe I am blessed to be able to recognize it today, when 12 years ago I was not. Today, while I may WANT a certain outcome (please let me prove I could be a holy yet wealthy woman by winning the Powerball, Lord) I must never EVER be willing to compromise my integrity in order to try and MAKE that outcome happen.

Today on the day we commemorate the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist, let me always remember that walking the Road of Happy Destiny does mean I will always be happy.

What it does mean is I will always be able to call on the grace necessary for the trudging - and with the intercession of St John the Baptist, I will keep my head.

get it?



R.L. G said...

It has been quite a ride for me. I was dating a woman in 2003 when I started RCIA, and looking back on it, it was over at that very moment. Neither one of us wanted to admit it, for different reasons. She had the whole “12 years of Catholic School” thing down pat, and could not for the life of her figure out why I was taking it seriously after Confirmation at the Easter Vigil in 2004. I needed to be “reasonable” about it. We mercifully ended it in 2006, after two years of agony. Not much success since then, if your metric is a long term committed relationship such as the Sacrament of Marriage. I have been getting used to the loneliness, and all things considered, it’s given me a new perspective.

I read the “Hound of Heaven” for the first time in late 2002, and got interested in the Jesuits as well , after reading something Fr. Dowling wrote about that poem in “AA Comes of Age.” That was like entering a one way path for me. I knew this was the direction I wanted to move in, a moment of clarity. And I knew my life was going to change. Sometimes when I’m whining about being “lonely” I forget that commitment I made. An old time once told me that commitment was like bacon and eggs; The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. Put your seatbelt on indeed!

Leslie Klinger said...

We have been in for some wild rides, eh Robert? I would not trade it for anything...though sometimes I do admit to wishing it was easier and softer....

R.L. G said...

If I was built for "easier and softer" I would be a different person. My natural make up tends towards the "test the system" kind of living. As my good friend and brother Bud once said to me, "It's a good life if you don't weaken."