I’ve discovered something about myself recently, and it came by way of a friend.
She recounted how, as she was sharing in front of a group of her fellow parishioners, she suddenly realized she might have been sharing too much.
“But it felt right,” she said. “The Spirit was at work. Suddenly, I felt so naked.”
I knew just what she meant. I find it myself, especially when I stand in front of my fifth-grade religious education class.
There they are, innocent and with so much life in front of them. They’re rowdy and energetic and ready to laugh in an instant.
They are tackling the big questions in life, and in the midst of the shrugs and rolling eyes, I catch a glimpse, now and then, of just how much they want to love their faith, of how passionate they long to be.
They see me, every week, make a fool of myself. I get fired up and heated and I have even been known to raise my voice.
I do the same thing, times ten, with a group of Confirmation students every summer. I can’t help it: I remember, so well, those years. I too wanted something to believe in. I too wanted something to grasp.
Do they know what to make of me? Will they remember anything we have discussed? For that matter, will they continue to Jesus in the Eucharist after these classes are a distant memory?
I’ve bared my soul to groups of adults too, but it’s far harder. Suddenly, I’m in a peer group. Suddenly, there’s a part of me worried about what they think. Suddenly, I wonder if maybe I’m wrong, if it’s not really the Spirit but some part of me.
There’s a distance we have thanks to the many screens in our lives. It’s not so hard to say what I think or feel when I’m just typing words to a theoretical world. But when I’m looking them in the face, when I’m feeling their reaction in person, it makes a difference in me.
That difference is hard, pushing me in ways I don’t want to be, pulling me closer to God if I let it. Sometimes, I think, it’s easier just to be naked in front of the crowd.
This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.
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