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Friday, February 22, 2008

God Gave Us the Church for a Reason

The last couple days have been rough. One of my character flaws is that I tend to be oversensitive. This must be distinguished from what is natural sensitivity in women, and goes beyond that gift right into something that maybe I'd unite with pride.

This has always been a battle with me. As a child I was very very, painfully shy, and had to overcome that. But mean-spirited jokes always cut me to the core, even if it was unintentional, a sharp word from a teacher would absolutely CRUSH me, and if I learned that someone didn't like me, I would be upset about it for days.

This flaw has carried into my adulthood, although not quite in the same way. And of course, my years of working towards, and then in, male-dominated fields did help me grow a thicker skin. And I learned to return the barbs, I learned not to "feel" so much, and I did everything I could to either desensitize myself to things or just lie to myself and try to make myself believe that "it doesn't matter."

Well, now that my entire worldview has been given a violent shove into the proper perspective, I find that old flaw creeps back in. So now I do think it's good for a woman to be sensitive, as that is one of our feminine gifts, but it's a struggle not to take that leap.

So, the last few days has been a special kind of struggle for me. Yes, I'm willing to embrace this Cross, and deal with the anger of the parents whose consciences God pricked during my talk last week. And yes, I'm willing to offer it all up. But how to do that and also be human? Where is the balance that allows me to suffer properly but not take it to depths that it doesn't warrant? Because no one likes a whiner. Especially not God.

I was asking myself these questions yesterday, and trying to take an honest look at myself and what I said/did. Could I have offended someone? Certainly. Perhaps a certain phrasing WAS too harsh? Or could it really have nothing to do with that?

This morning I woke up with knots in my stomach, wondering if I'd be having a conversation with Father that did not go as well as the last one. Wondering if I should try to take action against the "sea of arrows" and find some sort of defense? I considered the reactions of some of the parents who thanked me for stating things clearly, and the school teachers who were present and said the same thing. (And as an aside, are also hearing from parents.)

This morning while walking my dog, I was mulling it all over. What is the proper thing to do? Should I just turn the other cheek and accept the criticisms and learn from them or just let them roll off my back, whether they are just or outright lies? St. Therese of Lisieux famously apologized for things she did not do...should I follow that path? Or would that be seen as weakness and undermine the gospel message? Where, truly, is my strength here?

There are many holy paths to take, but really, which is correct? For they are not all correct all the time. Even St. Therese did not choose to do the same things in all occasions. Prudence.

Oh, yeah, prudence. Also a virtue I need to work on.

Then it came to me, my own words. Just after I finished endorsing the position of the Church on the necesity of attending Mass for the sake of their own and their children's salvation, I softened the blow by discussing the importance of the parish community. Because Christ established the Church for a reason. We are not islands. We need to help each other, we need to strengthen each other in faith, and parents may need assistance in getting their children to heaven...and to Mass. We have to rely on each other, and we do this at the behest of Jesus himself.

So, there was my answer. I had to realize that I have rights here, too. And so does Father. He's hearing all sorts of things from upset parents, including all sorts of misquotes. Shouldn't he hear the good, too?

As soon as I got to work this morning, I saw I had 2 messages. Thankfully, they were from EXACTLY the people that I needed. The first was one of the teachers who needed a little info to pass on to a parent. I reached her directly and asked for a she was present, would she be willing to talk to Father about whatever she felt was GOOD about that evening? She knew the context of this question, and was very willing to do what she could. The next was a parent, and while she hadn't been present, her husband was. They are a solid, faithful Catholic family and are very familiar with the program as they have several children. Her husband is apparently one of my fans. Yes, they are willing to tell Father that they liked how things were going. She and I chatted for awhile as usual (she's such a sweet person!), but then she had to run to keep her 1-year-old from pulling the lamp down.

The last was another parent, one who works in the school, and she was one who spoke with me the day after, herself complaining about the behavior of some of the parents who were there. She promised to call AND email Father. She also assurd me that I hadn't said anything harshly or inappropriately, and her feeling on this entire thing is that some people need to grow up.

So...I'm feeling better today because, while I know this isn't done, I've got people in my corner who are willing to stand up and be counted. Not on my behalf, but on behalf of the Truth, and they also feel that Father needs to hear good things that are happening in the parish.

Maybe this was part of the lesson for me, to help me learn to lean on others. Certainly I learned today that people are ready and willing to stand up, and are just waiting to be asked. And these same people, if they are unhappy, are the same ones who would not hesitate to advise me if I'd done something wrong. In other words, they are actually friends.

Thank God for the Church...there's no way I could carry out this mission on my own.


Adrienne said...

I am also of ultra sensitive type. Parish ministry is a good place to work on this problem.

I have found that the things I get in an uproar about are forgotten in a very short time.

You were right to examine your part in the situation and decide if you could have changed things.

Once that is done you need to learn what was soooooo hard for me to learn. Keep it to yourself. Do not involve others (except for the one or two special confidants you may have). Let this die the death it deserves.

Your pastor is doing his job. It isn't the first time he's had to deal with unruly parents and, Lord knows, it won't be the last.

I am blessed to have my husband who gets to hear my rants. What I am working toward is the time I won't even have to rant to him.

I went through a horrific situation last year that decimated the Confirmation class. Only one was confirmed instead of the scheduled eight.

The funny thing was, in this case I really had nothing to do with any of the uproar. In time the perpetrator of all this uproar made the error of attacking our pastor. BIG mistake.

The sad part? Seven kids who were not confirmed.

You just keep doing the good job your'e doing. God bless you.

adoro said...

The people that are in my corner know only what they need to, and have seen it before so don't need specifics, which is good. And the closer confidants are in our office and of course are well aware...becuase we're all fighting the same battle to one degree or another.

It is a sad situation with your Confirmation class. Some people!

I know that I will not be staying in this position for a real long time. I'm not looking for a new job, and I know that God brought me here for a reason, but for the long I just don't see it. It's not my calling, although it is where I'm supposed to be for now, which is likely a part of my true calling, or at least prep for it. And I can't afford to stay here, either.

But that's life. God has a plan, He places us where He wants us, and we suffer what He wants us to suffer.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm overjoyed that you spoke up for Truth. I'm sure the Lord is too. The Truth does not always make us popular. For every few parents you may have angered, how many are on your side or how many perhaps said nothing but are now pondering it in their heart?

Well done.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the "over-sensitive" side--hey but were girls--God gave us our sensitivities for a reason. Makes us more compassonate and loving. When slings and arrows come at you--it's easy to put up the walls--handle it by yourself--and not "lean" on others--isolate ourselves (I know this well). But yes, it's what God wants us to do--be vulnerable sometimes--let other's help--let other's give us love and comfort--and we need to learn to accept the love--friendship is not just a one way street.

Hidden One said...


Angela M. said...

May our Mother Mary comfort and strengthen you.