This coming Saturday will mark my first year as a Catholic.
So in keeping with the spirit of the Lenten season; I confess.
For the past 30 years, I have attended mass with my family. Every Sunday morning, it was as though the gospel was being directed solely at me. Words began to take on new meaning. I began to hear things for the first time. The stories filled my mind, the lessons nourished my soul and the love swelled within my heart.
I needed to become something more than just a visitor.
He wore me down. Persisted. And stuck with me. Until I decided to let go and find my way back to Him.
Now a year later, it feels just like home. His words yet find their mark. In a voice more compelling. Teaching lessons more challenging.
It has been all it is meant to be. And then some.
Then, when I didn’t think His grace could get any more amazing, things were yet again cast in a totally different light.
Years ago, as I was putting my parents through the wringer of my youth, my dad said something about me, and to me – through my mom – that has never left me. Something that has steadily gained mass ever since.
Being waist-deep in creating an excess of destructive, selfish and uncharacteristic behavior, it was suggested that I find and get some third-party, professional guidance.
To help me sort things out. Regain some clarity. Find my way back.
Though the true crux of the matter should have been my cross to bear, one particular exercise involved pointing out how others “wronged me”.
By penning a letter.
Directed at my parents.
You know; to let them know how I really felt.
A deed to be done for me.
Without regard as to how low it laid them.
It came as no surprise that my words found their mark. I can remember the palpable discomfort the next time I came home.
Especially in my dad.
I had already done my best to strain that relationship on multiple levels.
So being that he was stoic, a man of few words and my communication skills were basically nonexistent, dad chose to share his review of my tome with my mom.
I will never forget what she relayed to me:
“That isn’t Mark. It’s all jargon.”
Six simple words.
That to this moment, still resonate.
Especially right now.
During this season.
For what my dad was telling me back then – in his own way – echoes what He has been trying to tell me all along:
“I know you.
I forgive you.
I love you.
So long story short, I only needed to get well into my late fifties to finally be able to sort things out. Gain greater clarity. And find my way.
With the best third-party guidance available.
To those of you that are on the same path, facing the same self-inflicted struggles as me:
Stick with it. Keep the faith. Let go. And let God.
For no matter how vile we think, speak and act towards one another, how poorly we treat ourselves and how little we regard Him, mercy is yet available. Grace is still possible. And peace, if permitted, can become inevitable.
Those six simple words afforded this lost soul with great comfort.
Dad knew me even though I didn’t know myself.
Dad loved me, even when I couldn’t love myself.
Dad forgave me, even when I couldn’t forgive myself.
A year into this new venture, His words confirm for me daily that same fatherly love.
I cannot say He and my dad were ever joined at the hip. I never took the chance to ask either of them.
But it is increasingly apparent that through Him, my dad found his voice.
Then taught me His simple lesson.
For in his own way, somehow, he knew me like He does.
Forgave me like He does.
And loved me like He does.
One thing is for certain.
Nothing about that, is jargon.