I want to climb in a hole. I am uttering every profanity known to the universe – sick of it all. Pushing people away is so easy. Pushing me away. Isolating myself is the only answer. Darkness, no light. Just leave, leave me be. How many times have I uttered these words in complete frustration, agitation, and with determination? Is this a solution to what is paining me?
You don’t want to hear what I have to say. Heck, I don’t want to hear it. God’s Word, I definitely don’t want to hear that. I choose to ignore it. Let me be to my self-imposed misery.
I find myself in this situation well too many times (I am embarrassed to say). The reasons being many: I ate too much, there is too much on my shoulders, bills, work, my children. Why me?
What a disgusting pity party!
Here is how I combat this: I will myself to read the Gospel just about every day (I'm honest).
The sarcastic part of me says, yeah right, Peter. That really helps, not.
But it does. The key is the human element of the Gospels. It brings me back to the divinity of Christ. I use the word divinity here, but truthfully, it is Jesus and how he knows us as humans that touches me and bring me solace. When I read, I start feeling peace, I know I’m on the right path.
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I also have picked a disciple to which I can relate.
Peter. I love Peter. I am a bit biased (name) but to me, Peter is representative of the common person. He has faults, sins, brashness, and loyalty. He cuts off a soldier’s ear protecting Jesus and the next night he denies knowing Jesus 3 times! Yet, he is a foundation of the Catholic Church. The rock.
Peter has said to Jesus: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” This rash statement comes after he sees Jesus perform a miracle casting nets and catching fish in what Peter thought to be an empty sea. Peter willfully pushes Jesus away.
Does any of this sound familiar:
- Don’t look at me; I’m ugly, I'm fat, I’m stupid.
- You don’t want to be with me; I have too much baggage.
- My husband is so dysfunctional; he is destroying our family, I need to hide, all the neighbors are talking.
- It’s been so long since I’ve been in Church, I feel like the Priest is looking right at me to condemn me.
Husbands push away wives, wives push away husbands, kids push away parents, and friends push away friends.
Pushing away is the easy answer! Isolate yourself and you think that you can solve the issues or they just might resolve on their own. Throw in a dash of feeling unworthy and now you have a reason to push all away, including God. Most of all, God.
Pushing away in anger, frustration, misery leads to beating yourself up. Sometimes physically through addiction (alcoholism, pornography, food), outright depression, or some other means. There is nothing positive.
Pushing away provides no easy answer, just a rabbit hole.
I want to stop right here and state a difference between pushing away and reflection or as I know it, alone time. I believe in alone time. I love alone time! I know alone time is crucial to my spiritual needs.
I categorize alone time as reflection, not pushing away. Reflection is time in deep, constructive thought. It can include praying or reading a book that has a point, or listening to some type of music that helps mend you.
Most importantly it should include reading the Gospel. This is our lifeline.
This is necessary and productive. Reflection is asking ourselves why and coming up with positive affirming answers that bring us peace. Even if those answers do not come, reflection can bring better questions which focus our thoughts getting us closer to an answer.
Peter in the face of something overwhelming as Jesus pushed away and immediately focused on his unworthiness due to sin. Jesus had the perfect human reaction: “Do not be afraid.”
I love the humanness and insightfulness of this answer. Embedded in this answer is God’s acceptance without fear. Reading this helps pull me out of my rabbit hole.
True story: For many years I would not receive the Eucharist at Church. In my mind I was too much of a sinner. It depressed me. Seriously, it is depressing, embarrassing, shameful, when your family gets up to receive, your neighbors, and you move to the side.
“No, sorry, sinner here, can’t go up.” Talk about feeling like people are looking at you with a condemning countenance.
Then a couple of years ago, Pope Francis came out with this quote that shook me to my Catholic cells:
“The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the week.”
Wow. Every time I read that I feel Christ in me.
As one Priest, Father Mike, told me in our podcast: “Faith is not a matter of the intellect but a matter of the heart.” Pushing away is our reaction to feeling unworthy, sinful. I find modelling Jesus’ answer to Peter beneficial (to me as well as wife, family, coworkers, friends). It brings me closer to God and those who I touch.
If you empathize with the first paragraph, don’t climb into that hole – nothing good happens in the dark. The Gospel is your flashlight and anchor all in one. Use it.
Copyright 2016 Peter Serzo
About the Author
Peter Serzo, observer, listener, author, speaker, and blogger. He shares his experiences at different Catholic churches at Dotirome.com and on his popular Priest Podcast, with enlightening conversation with those that lead (not a theology conversation but a conversation on being a priest/leader/human). Peter travels, visiting different Catholic churches satiating his curiosity and desire to spread each parish's uniqueness though his blog and presentations.