Lying to Myself

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” — Matthew 6:24

I caught myself in a lie the other day. Over the past few weeks, I’ve told this lie to many others, but most frequently to myself. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “I’m glad I made the decision to leave my job at the parish, but I still need to find steady work.”

I’ve uttered that statement or variations of it countless times in the past month. It is only half true—and the other half, I am realizing, is a lie straight from the serpent’s tongue. Continue reading

Book Break: Resisting Happiness

ResistingHappinessThis morning I finished Matthew Kelly‘s 2016 book Resisting Happiness. I opened this book several weeks ago while staying at a friend’s, after reading the cover blurb: “A true story about why we sabotage ourselves, set aside our dreams, and lack the courage to simply be ourselves…and how to start choosing happiness again.”

It seemed relevant.

Although his books are very popular in our local parish and in the Church more broadly, this is my first cover-to-cover reading and mini-review of a Matthew Kelly book. Resisting Happiness was clear and concise, personal and practical, naming and describing dozens of little things we do that keep us comfortably stagnant and offering simple ideas on how to overcome those tendencies and start living intentionally for God. Continue reading

Scuttle It and Swim

Shortly before I left my job at the church, a long-time parishioner and “straight shooter” stopped by the parish office. Seeing me there and knowing I was leaving soon, she inquired what I would be doing next. I told her I hoped to be writing full-time for the Church. She gazed a moment at me, a slight smile creasing her face, then asked, “Are you seeking a life of poverty?”

Her practical candor caught me off guard, compared to the wonder and well-wishes I had received up to that point—as did my off-the-cuff reply: “Well, there are worse things!”

I have now been a month without work. Our bills are paid thus far; I’ve done one small freelance job for a former colleague, and I have a couple more freelance proposals out for review, but no response to date. I’ve applied to a handful of full-time communications jobs at Catholic organizations and several non-Catholic (and even non-writing) positions. The budget will be tight in the coming weeks.

There are worse things. Continue reading

A Walk on the Waves

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.

– Matthew 14:27-29

Today is my last day as a parish employee. I have been profoundly blessed to work for the Church I love, in the church I love, with people I love, for a community I love, for the past three years. My father always preached, Leave it better than you found it. I pray I’ve done so. I know I’m better than you found me.

Today I leave the boat for a walk upon the waves.

Over the past several weeks, as my departure became known, I’ve heard a number of variations on the following: It’s brave of you to step out in faith like this. It’s such a powerful witness of trust: going where the Lord leads you. I’m sure you are on the right path and I can’t wait to see where it leads! Continue reading

A New Mission

By now it’s pretty well gotten around that I’ll be leaving the role of faith formation director at the end of June. A number of you have said, “I can’t wait to hear what you’ll be doing next,” to which I reply, “Me, too!”  On the other hand, we have taken great leaps forward in the past three years, and I have never felt unappreciated or under-compensated working for the parish. It’s good work—it’s just not my work.

 I’ve made a discovery this past year: I have an evangelist’s heart.

I am competent at many things, and even skilled at some of them. I can be an administrator, a catechist, a communicator, an administrative assistant, and a laborer. I can do all sorts of things when needed. But I have an evangelist’s heart.

And, thanks be to God, I can write. I’ve known this for some time, and every staff or personal retreat I’ve been on for the past decade or more has resulted in me saying to my bride, “Whatever happens from here forward, I need to write.” I’ve been told the same thing countless times, by family and friends, acquaintances and total strangers. I’ve never made a successful go of writing on my own, however—I think primarily because, until now, I’ve tried to do it on my own. I’ve never really asked what God wanted me to write and waited for an answer.

I have always been the least rational and most emotional of all my male friends. I blunder through the world heart-first, find beauty in strange places, share too much, talk too much, and cry more than my bride. It’s embarrassing. I’m not good at casual friendships: most of the time I either go deep, or I can’t link a name to a face.  Any given week I love humanity and hate it, sometimes at the same time.

But when I share from the heart, when I speak or write about things I care about—faith, marriage, family—it moves people. When I talk about my own journey from part-time Catholic kid to an Ivy-educated agnostic with a porn problem to a faithful husband and father, it touches people. And I want to do that.

What’s more: God wants me to do that. (I finally asked.) No more pretending these gifts are weaknesses or wishing He made me differently. I am what He made me, and I’m only as free as I am obedient to His will.

It’s exciting: I feel like an apostle being called by Jesus to follow. And it’s terrifying: I don’t like reaching out to new people, because loving those people involves time, effort, and usually pain. Plus I can’t see my way forward. Peter and Andrew, James, and John dropped their nets and left their boats behind. Matthew left his post, his money, his whole former life. I have a primary vocation as husband and father. I can see no way to do what God is asking of me in my free time, and no simple way to make a living. I can’t see a logical next step.

So for the first time in my life, I find no solution other than utter abandon, to give everything to the Lord and let Him sort it out.

Dive in. Heart-first.