I’ve walked up to a grieving mother, asked about her deceased daughter, and wrote about it. I’ve watched Army reservists, called to active duty, give good-bye hugs and kisses to teary-eyed friends and family members before they shipped out to the Middle East, and wrote about it. I’ve dived headfirst into the most personal topics from my own life and wrote about it.
So, how come then I get squeamish writing about my Catholic faith?
I’ve written some about my faith in the past, but the experience is more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. When I try to write about my faith, I get an image of a man in religious garb greeting me at the airport with a flower or a missionary knocking on my door asking if I have a few minutes to talk about my soul.
When it comes to faith, most people nowadays tend to err on the extremes: either throwing it in your face or hiding it in the background. I’ve always worried about giving people the wrong impression. A twist of a phrase here, the turn of a word there and I lose a friend, or a reader.
I was away at a retreat recently and I got to thinking about my faith and why I keep it under wraps. I don’t really have a good answer. I attribute some to my Central Pennsylvania roots and the idea that you keep private things like how much money you make, personal struggles, and even how God helped you through a particular problem, well, private.
I came to my Catholic faith thanks in large part to my wife. She grew up Catholic and as we grew closer I saw that it was a big part of who she was. I decided to learn more, to really learn more, and not just what I thought Catholic’s believed. I’ve always had a deep desire for faith and as our relationship continued to grow and we started to build a life together, I took religious education classes to first learn more and then to become a member.
A few more thoughts on faith:
Like my roots, I used worry about how people would see me. I believe in Jesus Christ, but I’m still the same guy who’s looking forward to our annual weekend away with friends to the Jersey Shore. I’ll spend too much money on beer and 7-and-7s and waste the weekend away watching football.
I’m the still same guy who curses the idiot driver who cuts me off in speeding traffic and nearly causes an accident. I’m still the same guy who yells at his kids, when he should instead shut-up and listen. I’m the same guy who gets frustrated and wonders where God is. Yes, as strange as it may sound, the same guy, same faith.
My faith doesn’t make me better or worse than the next guy. It simply gives me direction, courage and peace to keep plugging away, to keep working to be a person, and keep rising up to meet whatever challenges the day has to bring.
And, oh yea, it gives me the courage to write about it in venues like this one.