Now I wrote this and am sharing it, but a part of me really wishes I didn’t put this out there. (This is one instance where I’m happy that no one really reads my blog…)
On 3.18.2016 Bishop Zubik led Stations of the Cross at St. Bonaventure Parish. I have been meaning to attend a Stations at least 1x over the last few years but just haven’t gone. This was the perfect opportunity. I felt a few things (1) it would be good since I wanted St. Bonaventure to “have a good showing” of turn out for the Bishop, (2) I might know people there, and (3) perhaps the Bishop would remember me from the 3/5 meeting or even mention me at some point (you know, because he was so impressed by what I said that he would feel the need to tell everyone in church).
As I walked into the Church I ran into the parents of a friend and I asked if I could sit with them (I could) but as we were going in I saw someone I thought was the dad of a grade school friend (it was). I stopped and talked with him – who I haven’t seen in 20 years and it was nice to semi-catch up for 5 minutes. While standing there I saw a mom who is around my age who I met at Discovering Christ and got to say “Hi”. By the time I went in I couldn’t find my friend’s parents. (Well, I thought I had found them but those people were not them. And it made me very glad that I did not interrupt them while they were kneeling in prayer!)
I sat in a pew by myself, continuing to look for them. I saw a husband and wife who I am semi-friends with thru Discovering Christ. Then the mom of a friend and one of her sons sat in the row in front of me. I leaned up to say hello and since usually I am not remembered I said who I was; surprisingly she remembered me and that felt nice. And then I found my friend’s parents and so I moved up a few rows to the place they had saved for me — right on the end, nearest the center aisle (not a seat I would have chosen myself, but perfect closeness to the Bishop were he to remember me).
As I prayed there I contemplated what had brought me to church that night. And I decided it was ego. Ego to think that the Bishop might mention me or remember me. Ego to think that seeing some Discovering Christ people would show them that I was someone who attended Stations (oh, the counter to that would be they too were at Stations, but I didn’t even think of my thinking of them in that way!). And ego to think that it was so great of me to attend when encouraged to attend.
I didn’t like it.
But then I thought. “Well, if it is something that brought me to church is it really that bad? Because I am in church after all and I did want to be here since I’ve been meaning to attend a Stations for a few years.” But then I decided, “No, it was mostly ego that brought me here. That’s definitely wrong.”
And so then it became a very self-centering Stations instead of a self-centered Stations – remembering that I needed to be there to be with God and for God. Whatever my brain thought was important was not important in any way. I needed to be present with God for the right reasons. Do what God wants because it is He asking me to do it. Not because I put anything on it other than “it’s for God”.
I enjoyed the praying, the kneeling, the homily, the time in adoration – thanking God for letting me see that I was getting caught up in wrong thinking. It was nice to see it, to recognize it, and so that going forward I can avoid it. If I start to see ego at play I need to reflect on that and figure out why I’m doing what I’m doing and make sure that it is for God above all things.
Forming connections and making friendships is important to my feeling like I have a place in the church community. But since I’m not anonymous anymore I have to realize that I no longer can just go, sit, be with God, and just kind of hide in the sea of people just doing my own thing. It risks being a tough road to navigate — because as this night showed me I risk getting caught up in myself and those connections versus staying focused on the right things.
I thank God for letting me see that so early on in this communal journey so that I can remember that He is the center and anything I do should glorify Him and not me!
Isn’t it funny how God didn’t punish me for my wrong thinking? He could have let me sit, not seeing anyone I knew, to let me be disappointed as a means to show me my proper place – letting Himself be the only one I saw. But God is love and with that love He slapped me in the face one person after the next (and risked feeding my ego), letting me see all the people my ego wanted to see. I think that if I didn’t see everyone I might have sat there in disappointment thinking, “I don’t know anyone here! Why didn’t the Bishop mention/remember me?” and therefore I might have remained so self-centered to not see the sin that I was committing. Isn’t funny how God shows us His love? With an act of love God turned me back to focusing on Him. Thru love God let me come to the realization of how blind I was being towards Him. He helped me to center myself.
Dear God, please help me to remain centered around you and never centered around myself. Amen.