Have I Found What I’m Looking For?

by Bill Brenner on March 14, 2011

Yesterday’s trip to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston has me reflecting on where my head was at five years ago and where it is now.

Mood music:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVdZ0Rdm8zI&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

This latest journey to the cathedral was as a helper and not as someone in the middle of a conversion. That’s what I thought at first, anyway.

Five years ago I was there for the ceremony known as the Rite of Election, where people going through the R.C.I.A. program (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults) stand before Cardinal Sean O’Malley and declare their wish to enter into the Catholic Church. In many ways I’m not the same man I was back then. In some ways, I’d like to think I’m a better person. In other ways, I know I have a very long way to go.

I’ve found a lot of what I was looking for, but not everything.

I’ve found my Faith. But I haven’t found a way to truly live it yet. 

I’m a true believer and I’m immersed in my church community. I read at Mass, take the Sacraments seriously and Erin and I are doing everything to pass our faith on to the boys.

I also know full well how Blessed I am. God’s Grace is everywhere around me. I know it the second I see it, which is pretty much throughout the day, whether I’m winning or struggling.

Working the 12 Steps of Recovery to keep my binge-eating addiction in check has also put my faith into sharper focus. The coping tools I’ve developed to manage the OCD has done the same.

With all that said, I’ve found a lot.

But still not everything.

As I said a few paragraphs ago, I have my faith, but I don’t even come close to living it as fully as I should.

I still use all the curse words I learned growing up in Revere, and lately it’s getting harder to muzzle myself around the kids. Since becoming a dad in 2001 I’ve made it a point to keep my mouth clean around children. But lately, in moments of frustration, the occasional curse word slips out. Most of the time they don’t hear it because it’s under my breath. But once in awhile they do. Being smart as they are, they always call me on the carpet when they hear it.

I go to Confession regularly. But I seem to commit the same old sins all over again within minutes of being forgiven. Confession isn’t about dumping your dark side out on the priest’s lap so you have room in the tank to fill up on the same poison. You’re supposed to be truly sorry and change your ways. I’m always sorry but the next step eludes me.

I’m nothing special in that regard. We keep going to confess because none of us fully succeeds at burying the old habits. But when I take my own inventory I see trouble all over the place.

The most insidious parts of my addictive behavior are still under control thanks to my program, but like any good addict I still latch onto other comforts like cigars and the Internet.

I have much to work on.

For now, though, I’m at least grateful for the progress I have managed to make. I don’t live in fear and anxiety like I used to and that’s huge. I’ve made amends with several of the people I hurt over the years.

Some of you have suggested I’m too hard on myself in this blog, and a post like this is bound to reinforce that view. But as I keep saying, I don’t do it for want of pity. I do it because taking an full assessment of my good and bad parts is what I need to evolve. It’s also important if I’m to help others traveling the road I’ve been on. 

Yesterday was a great day. I missed being with my wife and children, but returning to the cathedral was an important thing to do. I’m there to assist the R.C.I.A. program, but in doing so I’m forced to keep looking in the mirror.

I don’t always like how I look in that mirror, and sometimes I’m afraid to step in front of it. But afterward, I’m always glad I did.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

christine March 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

beautiful entry. this was my best friend clayton’s “song.” clayton died in 2002 after 2 years of heroin abuse. he always had his faith, and faltered often in the living out of it.

great blog – it’s so nice to see WRITING in a world filled with 140 characters.

billbrenner1970 March 18, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thanks. I do 140 characters, too, though. 🙂

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