Circumstantial evidence leads me to believe that in certain circles, some of them very close, I am considered to be a black sheep... a black goat even. I'd like to think I'm wrong about it, simply misunderstanding the circumstances but... I'm also trying not to be a fool about the obvious.
What I'm attempting to train myself to do for now is withdraw from circumstances where that evidence seems overwhelming. Why? Because in my humanity, in the person that I am absent Christ's presence, I'm likely to act in ways that are counterproductive.
I'm handling things better now than before admittedly but there's always room for improvement.
Where do I go to grow? Where might I pick up that which helps me see things for what they are and helps me deal with them in a manner I hope is productive?
I've come to believe that where Christ is, so should I be if I want to be more like him so I go where I sense a strong presence of the Lord. Mass certainly helps, particularly and specifically the Eucharist, where I've come to firmly believe Christ is but I also go to the Godly. I go to those whose words are like balm, in whose words I sense the presence of God.
I go to people like Fr. Justin Udomah who yesterday wrote a most timely piece:
We can choose to live from within or from without. We can choose to be real or fake. We can choose to be sincere with ourselves or pretend to be who we are not. And we can choose to live freely or tie ourselves down with unnecessary concerns. When we live from within, we are not preoccupied with what people will think or say about us. Rather we are primarily concerned with being ourselves - real, sincere, and true. This is authentic living. When we live from without, we are more concerned with the impressions people will have about us and how that could affect our self image. This is a façade-driven life. The truth is that people who care too much about what people will say end up living empty lives. But those whose actions are motivated from within live truly happy and fulfilled lives.
I have chosen to be real. Real can be raw to some, a rawness that engenders an awkwardness, an unsettling, a discomfort in those focused on what their perception of real is and how they expect all to meet those expectations.
More times than not, I don't meet those expectations. Likely never will. Likely never will because I'm sincerely trying to consistently choose the real over the fake, and this means avoiding the appearance or pretension of being someone I'm not.
That's a difficult thing to embrace in a culture that would rather we embrace the shallow, would rather we embrace the pretend, would rather we embrace the facade-driven life.
There have been times when I think, wouldn't it be simpler, wouldn't it be easier, wouldn't I get along better with everyone else if I weren't who I am today, if I was someone who focused less on the transcendent and much more on the here and now?
And the answer comes back... no... it wouldn't be because the Hound of Heaven would be hounding me all the more.
I am, paradoxically, content with who I am yet restless in knowing that there's more of who God wants me to be.
I am choosing to live from within and not from without.
Dear Lord, continue to help me in that choosing and thank you for putting people like Fr. Justin before me when I so need them.