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Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Mend Fences and Not Share Your Faith

I have been taught by both my 12 Step program and the Catholic Church to look to myself always when there is a problem between me and another person. This teaching has made me very aware of my own shortcomings, and it has made me aware of how impossible it is to mend a fence with someone who rejects basic religious teachings - any basic religious teachings, not just Christianity - because for them, holding onto a resentment is their shield and their sword.

Because people who suffer from alcoholism cannot hold onto resentments (it can be fatal for us to do so) we forget that the average 'normal person' can hold on to resentments. Shoot, they can make holding on to a resentment an art form, nursing it or polishing it like a diamond. For the Christian, the Pearl of Great Price becomes Jesus Christ and His Church. For others, the pearl of great price can become their anger and resentment towards those who have done them wrong.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not an instant forgiver. I think I have always been pretty honest with my readers about my hurt feelings, my reaction towards rejection, my wishing that I was loved by a whole group of people who have made it pretty darn clear (for at least a quarter of a century now) that I am NOT their cup of tea.

I have whined and worried and vomited my emotions on paper/blog because I believe my journey as a Catholic woman is one that is not unique. And because so much of my interaction is with new Catholics, I try to be honest about the struggles we can encounter when we deliberately and intentionally choose a path that is both narrow and broad, inclusive and demanding, unpopular and politically incorrect. It can hurt. It can mean being hurt. It almost always means making big giant mistakes and hurting others.

It can also mean forgiveness and reconciliation and that is why I do not quit.

What I face today is a problem that I do not think is going to be solved. I have deeply hurt someone by sharing my faith, in the past, in an inappropriate manner. It does not matter what my reasons for doing so were or how justified those reasons. I was, for them, out of line and by golly they are not going to let go of it. It is their Pearl of Great Price. It is what it is - que sera, sera.

So I cannot mend that fence. I can stand ready to do so, but believe me stubborn is as stubborn does so while I can stand ready what I cannot do is beat myself up over and over again for past mistakes, or beg the person to love me. Shoot, they didn't love me then - why would they love me now?

I can also remember that I have grown in how I share my Faith. I am not just a Catholic anymore - I am a Dominican, I am a Catechist, I am a writer (I even belong to the Guild now!) and I am a Persistent Widow in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures.

I am no longer contentious, or poke-you-in-the-chest adamant (unless you slander Holy Mother Church or make false assertions about what we believe - then, you are going to see a Holy Warrior with a gentle smile). I will not get into Internet or FB arguments. I will not engage with people who call me names. I will pray for them, but I will withdraw.

And I will continue to grow...I will recognize that not all fences are meant to be mended and sometimes letting someone stew in their own angry juices is the best way to let their own toughness soften up. I love but I do not beg. I laugh, I cry, I hurt and I suffer - but that is what I am called to do as a Catholic.

This weekend I get to attend a gathering of like minded and similarly afflicted types and immerse myself in the 'waters of recovery'. To do so is a renewing of the soul, mind and spirit. On Sunday, I get to stand with someone who has struggled mightily to grow up in the past year and watch them (with tears in my eyes, no doubt) go through the Rite of Acceptance and Welcome that is part of the journey towards full communion with the fullness of the Christian Faith.

And my dog is getting better.


So - what a fabulous life this poor little big mouth, offensive, Catholic Out Loud has!

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