Countless times in my life, I’ve chosen to leave my faith behind when confronted with a conflict between it and my lifestyle. As a teen, as I’m sure most of us can testify to, the difficulty in fitting in balanced with preserving the integrity of my faith, I often wavered on the latter, choosing the former to be the projection of myself. I always felt a departure from my true self whenever this would happen. I lacked the moral fiber to intervene on my own behalf. I posses a vivid memory – prior to meeting the woman who would one day become my wife, I was driving home from spending time with a person I very much cared for, but could not in any way convince to reciprocate those feelings. I remember feeling as though the source of my unhappiness and my inability to court this young woman was the fact that parts of me had to be someone other than who my soul knew I was, in order to just be “around”. I remember praying, while in my car, for God to bring to light the person with whom I could develop my true self. That was the prayer that got me back on the road, in hindsight. It certainly would not be the last prayer I would ask, nor that He would answer. However, it did serve, and does still, as the perfect example of how the right prayer, when asked, is delivered. God’s Love does not waver or diminish by our misdeeds. It is a river ever-flowing. All we need do is help ourselves remain along its banks.
For each person in my life, there come with those relationships various beliefs in God and commitments to His Graces. I was raised to focus on my own journey; to not determine the value of my relationship by the synchronization of our separate faith journeys. For the most part, this has remained true. I have never, nor do I still feel called as an evangelist by words. My hope is that my life would indicate the value of allowing God into my heart, but it is by no means a pressing point for me to verbalize this towards others. If directly asked, I bear no hesitation in offering my thoughts, but rarely, if ever, have I taken it upon myself to be the instigator of that conversation.
And so it goes that on the day of my third child’s baptism, one loved one made joking remarks to another about the consequences he might incur while in a church and still filled with sin. It was, no doubt, intended to be a joke. It also, no doubt, created discomfort in the man who is less frequently in a place of worship. When I heard of the exchange, I felt pain. Pain for the discomfort caused. Pain for the un-Christian act of discouraging another’s faith journey. Pain that I am in no place to evangelize either of the two. For I am also Peter, on the night before the Crucifixion. I have equally, and possibly far more frequently, negatively impacted the Kingdom of God. And therein lies the rub.
In my introspection, I realized that we have all equally sinned in the eyes of God. By turning our back on God, there is no one among us more worthy of claiming spiritual goodness. All we can do is make every effort to turn back around; to face God with our eyes open, beg of forgiveness for our wayward missteps, and we shall have it. It is a source of great happiness for me, this completely undeserved acceptance back into the flock. The fact that there is nothing we can do that would deplete the reserve of Love God has for us is the most powerful internal force within me. Over the course of my life, there will be countless times when I will not be the one to properly stand up and portray the Love of God to another. I do not want that to happen. It is written into our humanity. What I can do about it, however, is to put myself in the daily frame of mind to review my actions, make it right with God, and mend the errors with that person, or those persons.
Our faith journey is an imperfect one. None among us can claim otherwise. Perhaps together, we can recommit ourselves to what is good. Help each other along the way. Do so with a less judgmental air of self-righteousness. Preserve the integrity of the culture we ought to be seeking. There will be much faltering. Along the way, may there also be much happiness in the striving for a Love we can never rightfully earn, nor ever fully deplete.
Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,