Finding sobriety through a spiritually based program of recovery lead me back to the Catholic Church. This is not the experience for all lapsed Catholics but it is mine and I will be forever grateful to that program for reintroducing me to the deep spirituality of my Faith. I am in awe of what I don't know and every day is an opportunity to delve deeply into that which The Church offers to aid one on the path towards God.
I have, however, found myself confronted with an interesting problem - the attempts on the part of some to use my spirituality as a form of manipulation. It reminds me a great deal of the experiences shared with me by people of other faith traditions, particularly those who rely upon 'feeling the Spirit'.
It goes something like this: you are sitting quietly enjoying the afternoon, working hard on some project for your employer or lounging in the back yard drinking an iced tea, when your phone goes off. It is a message from an old friend, someone you have spoken of spiritual matters with in the past. You read the text and it is a litany of problems they perceive you are having accompanied with an admonition that you fix all these problems. You. You and your gang, or team or posse. Then, at the end of the harangue, is a quick note that this doesn't come from the sender, per se; rather it is a message they received while meditating. The actual message is from a dead person you loved and worked with for years.
It would be even more awful if any of the supposed message - the list of all the things wrong with whatever you are supposed to fix - had any basis in fact or truth. It doesn't. It references historical information that never happened, talks about stuff going on in the place you are supposed to fix that isn't going on and otherwise is so far out in left field as to be in another game all together.
In other words - ridiculous and goofy and strangely self-serving and suspect.
Now, here is the part I have to cop to: I do not do well with people either trying to manipulate me or confronting me with a sledge hammer. I don't like confrontation (it makes me scared and anxious). I hate manipulation - it makes me flat out mad.
Getting angry is, of course, my sin. I should not let this type of thing bother me. I should bust up in laughter at the presumption and the silliness. I should then respond simply with, "Thank you for sharing" and go on my merry way.
I should of done just that - I didn't...but by golly, I should have and the next time it happens you bet I will reach back into my experience and grab this one so I do react in that way.
My reason for sharing this is not so people will commiserate with me and tell me how sorry they are that this happened. I'm sorry too. I wish it hadn't happened either; but that is not what should be the crux of the story.
What I am sharing is what I wish I had done. I wish I had not called the person and told them that their message from beyond is flat out crazy and that maybe the person they are getting the messages from is still as crazy as they were when they were alive. I wish I had not told them off and, when they responded, asked them if they had gotten that message from a ghost as well. I wish .... I wish.... I wish...
I wish I had done this: answered the text with one word: Thanks.
And then just gone on my merry way.
I share this type of stuff about me because there are people out there who think that someone who is abashedly Catholic Out Loud thinks they are without sin, walk on water or otherwise skip through life without making errors. There are even members of my 12 Step group that think 25 years sober translates into never ever making dumb decisions.
For me it is always important to share that Holy Mother Church does not require me to be perfect, She requires me to walk towards Perfection. She tells me to be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect and then she offers me the grace of the Sacraments to keep trying to do just that one day at a time.
For me it is important to share that being sober doesn't mean life won't happen and mistakes won't be made. Being 40 years sober or 25 years sober or 2 years sober does not mean you won't do some really dumb things that could hurt someone. It means you accept your failings, make the appropriate amends or apologies and then move on. And while I have not yet apologized to the person who sent me this message for losing my temper and treating them with disdain, I will do so....or I am not walking my talk.
Tomorrow I get to take some time with my 12 step sponsor. I will see how she suggests I handle the situation and I will follow her direction.
Today I will stay sober and I will pray....and I will ask for the Power of the Holy Spirit to shed grace on all of us.
God knows, I need it - do you?