“What do you mean you didn’t ask him? How are you going to get a ride if you don’t ask? … When will you ask? … We told you to ask an hour ago? Your generation is crazy – ok, just text him! DON’T TALK BACK TO ME LIKE THAT!...” My voice just kept escalating. My arguments just kept getting stronger with less negotiation and more dominance. I must convince him that I am right! I MUST!!! 30 minutes later – he wasn’t convinced. 30 minutes later – I was tired. 30 minutes later – I had reason to go to confession!
"In the book, The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis states that 'It is better to avert your eyes from what distracts you from your purpose. Quietly leave each person to his own opinion and avoid contentious bickering.' It is easy not to quarrel in a discussion when we see that the person with whom we are speaking is right. It is very hard, though, to leave another person with his opinion when you are convinced that the person is wrong. It would be important then to be reminded how our Almighty God treats us when we are the ones who stray away and are in the wrong. Does He pressure us or stop loving us?" (S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 83.)
Oh, how grateful I am for the Sacrament of Confession!
Days later I got to listen to a priest give a talk based on John 16:13, “The Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” This priest always has a twist on a subject that I don't see coming. He started off by asking us “Do you ever find yourself disappointed?” (Hmmm…me? Daily!) He said that our disappointments are the path to lead us to the truth, which in turn shows us what we are to love as God loves. In other words, when we are disappointed, it is a sign we are living in a lie - or that we just don't understand the truth. We often stay in the pool of disappointment instead of using it as the segue it is meant to be – to lead us to the Truth. He helped us to understand that usually we want to love the illusion of our dear ones, our circumstances, or our state in life. We often miss that when people or events disappoint us, it is God showing us the illusions we have built up. He said we have to walk from the illusion, through the disappointment, to the TRUTH. Later in his talk, the priest asked, “How do you respond when you disappoint yourself?” He surmised that we get angry with ourselves. We all agreed! He then reminded us that this disappointment in ourselves is also the chance to be led to the truth of who God loves – He loves us, as we are! Once we are in the truth, we have an opportunity to ask Christ to help us to love the truth as He does, for example, to love our dear ones or ourselves with all the truth about us.
“Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. …Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 3).
During the talk, the priest reminded us how Jesus told St. Peter that he would deny him (cf. Luke 36:31-35). Jesus didn’t tell Peter in a way that showed disappointment. He knew Peter. He wanted to help Peter to stand in the truth. When Peter actually denied Jesus, Jesus still loved him. Jesus was pleased that Peter now lived in the truth, and could fully comprehend who Jesus loved!
I saw after the talk how I do not imitate my Lord when dealing with my dear ones. When I had the 30 minute argument trying to convince my son about something, I wasn't imitating Christ. No, Jesus simply told Peter he would deny him. He didn't spend the rest of the night digging into Peter shaming him into being convinced he was wrong. Instead, he let Peter continue in his illusion. Then, when Peter did deny Jesus, Peter was fully aware of who he was. Since my last confession, when I want to convince someone I am right, I am repeating to myself: "I am not right, the Truth is right." I’m trying not to worry about convincing someone else about whatever - but instead I’m trying to let go, and to Let God. To think I am right is a slippery slope that often leads me to pride. I can agree with the Truth - which is always right - but it is not up to me to convince anyone about the Truth, it is up to God’s grace. When I see that I am the one who is in illusion, I am asking MOM to love the truth in me and for me. No doubt, Mary lives in the truth. My communion with her will be my way to love the truth too.