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Sunday, August 08, 2010


I feel like such a hypocrite so much of the time.

In the last few years, I've had to give a few talks on Vocations, and did recently, once again.  Each time I've had more to add, more to say, better ways to express certain concepts, better ways to make certain points. Usually I'm working with other speakers and using their own talks for material, offering what I have to bolster their own messages.

It's a great exercise in Catholic unity, and always very interesting, but tonight I was reflecting on the information I've provided...and the reality of my own discernment.

When I go in front of a group, I try hard to make sure that what I have to present is appropriate to the ages in the audience; it's important to reach them where they are. For some, Vocation and discernment are new words that must be properly defined. Others are more advanced, and yet for still others, it is the culture of their family.

What I present is solid information and advice. Very little comes from me, and of that which does, it is a repeat of advice from others, long ago, that has resonated over the years and got my attention when I was ready for it. I present the advice of Saints, the advice of theology in general, the facts according to our world today, and the foundational necessity of prayer and openness to God's love and compassion...and His Call.

Yeah, I'm a hypocrite; I preach what I've struggled to follow, although I've done my best to follow it.  I preach and make it sound SO EASY to just follow God's will, when I know for a fact that for some, that Will is easy and for the rest of us it's an uphill inside-out battle that takes no prisoners.

Vocational discernment may be the most important thing a soul can enter into; but it might also be the hardest, heart-and-soul-ripping experience they'll ever face.

And I wish I could say it was all downhill from there, but I suspect that's only the beginning. Soon to make my own decision, I know that the real heartache hasn't even begun.

Advice to remember

Several years ago when working with a very difficult family that seemed to argue with everything I said (in misguided overprotection of their father who was Pastor of a local Baptist church), I remember apologizing, yet again, to the dear elderly Pastor. I believe the family was originally from the Chicago area, and they almost had an air of the young gangstas protecting the elder Patriarch, yet only daring to go so far. Every dealing I had with them, seriously, I waited for the racial slurs followed by gunshots; I could tell what those older sons were thinking about me, and they didn't understand that policy provisions had nothing to do with race.

I was doing my best.

It was a hot summer day as those sons got into my face threateningly and I did my best to appear unintimidated. I took care to direct my comments and assessments to the Pastor, the owner of the car, and for his part, he never raised his voice even as he disagreed with some of what I was saying while explaining what my company could and could not do.

Ironically, it is his words that often come back to me when I'm in a tough spot. Whether I feel like a hypocrite or whether I'm just trying to offer something up but failing miserably.

I remember vividly how I brushed my hair back, wiping the sweat away, as I gripped my clipboard, apologinzing to the Pastor.  "I'm so sorry about all this. I know it's really hard on you and it's not something easy to resolve to anyone's satisfaction."

He had been in the process of walking away, even somewhat angrily, but at those words he turned around, leaned towards me, looked me directly in the eye and said softly and authoritatively, counteracting the fighting words of his sons, "He never said it would be easy;  He only said He would be with us."

Indeed. It bears repeating; the truth echoes through eternity and has given me comfort in the darkest hours of the night, whether physical or spiritual.

"He never said it would be easy. He only said He would be with us." 

Yes, I'm a hypocrite. And yes, life is hard in general and vocational discernment sometimes makes it like some level of Hell. It ebbs and flows and sometimes God calls this or that soul to a more difficult path for reasons known only to Him.

Yes, I've done it under the watchful guidance of Jesus Himself and I have the bruises and scars to prove it. It is my hope that when I speak to groups about Vocations and discernment, that the lessons brought home to me are bearing fruit in their lives.

But still, every now and then I have to remember what that Preacher told me:  Jesus never promised it would be easy; He only promised He would be with us.



paramedicgirl said...

A Baptist pastor with ganster sons? How interesting!...

...I have sometimes heard of grandmothers who pray for their grandchildren's vocations right from the time they are born. If only this were more commonplace! We would be able to step right into the vocation that God had planned for us, all thanks to those (grand)motherly prayers.

Joe @ Defend Us In Battle said...

I love your ending.

I feel as if sometimes the way I know I am on the right path is when things get hard.

Adoro said...

paramedic girl ~ Really not so uncommon. Low-income neighborhood, sons prob got caught up in the local culture, and I think he was your "black Southern Baptist" kind of preacher. I'm not sure exactly of his denomination but just the same, to this day I appreciate that little light of Christ he brought to a very difficult situation. We were butting heads but he wore his own faith on his sleeve and interjected it when it was most needed! (His sons..well, they have free will, of course!)

Unfortunately they weren't the only "gangsta" types I met like that. I once worked with a woman involved in prostitution who revealed to me her father was a Baptist pastor, and I gotta tell you, I think she had the best hope of getting out of that life but I've always wondered what led her into it to begin with. She never denied her strong moral upbringing. I suspect it's like that old stereotype of Pastor's kids that go wrong...but still...something with her went terribly, terribly wrong, probably more so than "average"!

Joe ~ yeah, seems that way, doesn't it?