I remember my first confession very vividly.
Mostly, I remember the priest telling me that I could be “jettisoned” from the church because my boyfriend is divorced. That was cool.
After that admonishment, though, I got into what I thought was my biggest regular sin – I felt like I had a lot of hate in my heart for way too many people.
I was in a different place then - I was in a job, and a lifestyle, that I really hated. I was surrounded by jerkbags. I hated them all.
I wish I could tell you that the priest that day said something profound but, let’s be honest – I was trying to figure out just how literally he meant “jettison” (voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship's load in time of distress??) so I didn’t pay attention to much of what he was saying.
I struggled with the hate, big time. I remember asking my priest about it at RCIA…I think my exact quote was “but Father, how can I not hate people when everyone around me seems to be so terrible?” He said something about us all being made in God’s likeness, but to different degrees. That didn’t really help me either.
After contemplating things for a while, though, I came to a life-changing conclusion about hatred.
I used it on the man I hated the most. His name is Joe.
I hated Joe. He made my skin crawl.
But one day, when I was sick and tired of being so hateful, I thought to myself: this guy has grandchildren (yeah, that’s right, I hated grandfathers, deal with it) who love him, and who he loves. He has a wife who loves him, and who he loves. He has kids…who I don’t like very much …. But I don’t hate them, and he loves them/they love him.
So while I am sitting here hating this guy’s guts (and boy, did I), some little six-year-old girl idolizes him as a grandfather. His wife decided to spend her life with him. He can’t be THAT bad.
Did this realization make ME love Joe? Oh HECK no. But it did make me not hate him as much.
After leaving my old job, I didn't have to deal with so much hate. But just today, I was reminded of a woman I used to deal with, and these seething thoughts poured from my brain.
But I thought about Lent, and that confession so long ago, and I said to myself “this lady has kids, they love her, and she loves them” – and then I started thinking about the maternal things she had done for me in the past, as much as I forgot about them when things soured, and again, the hate subsided.
And then I thought about being jettisoned by the Catholic Church....I haven't been thrown overboard just yet.
More on my Lenten Journey: