I have to go to confession. I have done it yet again. I have denied my Lord.
I grew up in a solid Southern Baptist family. A family that was a corner stone in many of the churches we called home. A family that preachers stand at the pulpit and call families to be. A family that not only seemed solid on the outside, but full of God's love on the inside. I lived it. I grew up in it. I was part of it. I am so blessed for this experience.
And then I had to make a choice. Either follow Jesus to the Catholic Church or stay with my family in the church that raised me. It was not an easy choice. It was clear to me which path to take, but I knew my family would be hurt in the process. I knew they would be confused. I knew they would pray for my return. I knew that this choice would separate me from them and they knew it would separate them from me. It was not an easy choice. But because of the love that reigned in our family, we were able to accept the different person I had become. The person Jesus was and is calling me to be. They were able to look past the differences in our faiths and find the love that bound us from the beginning. Although there is still some sadness, there is a glimmer of joy once again. And I am deathly afraid of crushing that glimmer.
I find it so hard to be Catholic in front of my family. It’s easy to invite them to baptisms, first communions and mass on holidays when they are visiting us, but it’s totally different to be Catholic in front of them. To share my experiences with the Eucharist or our Lady is like I am slapping them in the face. It’s like I am celebrating my betrayal of their faith. Most of what they believe is wrong with the Catholic faith is where I am finding my deepest experiences with our Lord. So, the idea of really sharing my faith with them is like twisting the knife I threw at their hearts on my way out of their church. I don't want to twist that knife. I don't want to hurt them anymore. So I stay silent.
And in that silence, I hear Jesus asking me to speak, to share, and to be who he is calling me to be. I have ignored him. I have not obeyed. I don't want to twist that knife. I lack courage. I lack faith that Jesus knows what he is doing. I lack faith that he will heal the hurt my sharing will inflict. My finite brain cannot see past the pain my exodus brought to their hearts. I must trust that he does see past it. I must trust that the separation imposed by my choice will ultimately bring Him glory. I must trust.
It's in moments like these that I can relate to what Peter must have felt. I love the Lord with an all consuming love that I can't quite understand. It’s a love that must be from God because I am completely unworthy of feeling it. It envelops me. Its alive in me. I can only imagine how much more love Peter felt having actually walked with Jesus. He felt his hands wash his feet. He listened to his voice speak the wisdom of God. He watched him walk on water, feed the hungry, and transfigure before the heavens. Oh, how Peter must have loved our Lord. And when the moment came for Peter to declare that love, he failed. And he was given a second chance, and he failed. And then the third opportunity came, and he failed again. Peter shows us how easy it is to let our humanity smother the burning love. He shows us how easily our fear can overcome our courage. And our Lord knows this. And he is ready to forgive when we fail. Peter went on to be the rock upon which our Lord built his church. In order to be that person, Peter must have not only been forgiven, but he also must have forgiven himself. How else could he have had the courage to go on and build Christ's church?
So must I. I must ask for forgiveness and then accept that forgiveness. I must ask for Jesus to help my unbelief. I must ask for courage and step out of the boat. I must trust that the impossible will be made possible by the one who wills it so. I must be who Jesus is calling me to be. I must be confident that although my family may label me as zealous or crazy, Jesus wants me to speak of my experience with him. When I step out of that boat, I will pay a price. I will sacrifice a piece of myself that binds me with them once again. And when the hurt causes my faith to sink in the water, Jesus will extend his hand and lead me to do the impossible. I must trust.