The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic Podcast episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Today is episode 63: Find Another Way
Hi friends. I was cleaning one day recently – moving the furniture and getting into corners as we do, and I had just placed our three kitchen chairs out of the way into the passage to the living room so that I could sweep the kitchen floor unobstructed when I noticed my pup, Bailey, looking a bit stressed. She was in the living room and had pushed up against those chairs, focusing all of her attention on the impediment. This barrier of chairs really frustrated Bailey, and it even scared her a little, I think, to have her path to me blocked as it was. And I looked at her with so much love because, though she could not reach me past those kitchen chairs, it’s true, there was another route wide open if she just changed direction to the other side of the house and made a new approach. Well, Bailey did figure this out eventually, but it made me think of how many times in our spiritual lives that we find an obstacle to relationship with God, and how we can focus only on that, holding tightly to the very frustrating and false belief that there is only one way.
God is so big, so much bigger than we can imagine, and each one of His kids is so different, one from the other. The idea that our roads to relationship with God would all look the same is kind of laughable if you really think about it, but if you were born and raised Catholic, you may have been taught that there is one prescribed and specific path to holiness that works for everyone, regardless of culture or time or experience and that if we could just get our acts together we could find it and carry it out and be better for it. That plan might look like duty and ritual and check boxes and straight lines and maybe the path you heard prescribed from a pulpit has never really worked for you, or maybe parts of it have worked, or maybe it used to work and does not work any longer. As Fr. Richard Rohr says,” We thought we came to God by doing it right, and lo and behold, surprise of surprises, we come to God by doing it wrong—and growing because of it! The only things strong enough to break open our heart are things like pain, mistakes, unjust suffering, tragedy, failure, and the general absurdity of life. I wish it were not so, but it clearly is.”
An authentic life of faith is a winding road for sure, but I have good news for you today, friend. If you are seeking a connection with God who loves you, but all you can see right now is an obstacle and you feel as nervous, frustrated, and angry as my pup Bailey was at the chairs that day, or even if that barrier makes you want to walk away for good, I get it, but one thing’s for sure, friend. There is always another way.
First, don’t let the focus on the current impediment make you miss the reality that you are in fact oriented toward and called by God. In Bailey’s case, she saw me, she heard me, and she wanted to be close to me. If you’re currently facing an obstacle, don’t miss the reality that you are still hearing God and willing to be closer to Him and that is so good. Friend, there is still a way. It just might not be a way you expected or planned.
So, what kinds of barriers are we talking about here, you may be wondering. Maybe the obstacle that’s taking up so much of your view is a person, someone who spoke for or represented God or the Church in a way that you are certain did not reflect Jesus or the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe it’s sin or disorder or dysfunction or clericalism within the Church itself. Maybe it’s a teaching or a belief that does not settle well with you. It could be a form of praying or worship that has not been helpful for you as you reach out for God. In each case, it would be easy to think that the problematic person or teaching or event is so large in your perception of God that there’s no way around it. Friend, it’s not so. God is bigger.
If you are struggling with a specific faith community or denomination or church that you have been a part of for some time, it can be hard, even traumatic, to wrestle or to seek out a new way. If you were born and raised Catholic, you may have been taught that seeking a new way – whatever that means to you – is simply not an option. Today there are lots of people, especially in the American Church, who are doing just that, motivated by a desire for authentic and true lives of faith. But if it’s permission you need, to seek out a new voice or a new community or a new church, then let me be the friend to give it to you today, because maybe time is too short to continue looking at a barrier to relationship with God and letting it frustrate and impede us. Maybe it’s time to find a new way. Having the courage to turn in a new direction and lean in to where God is leading us is just about one of the bravest things we can do, but it can be easier when we remember that we are not doing this alone. We don’t pursue God in a vacuum. He is El Roi: ‘God who sees’ and Emmanuel: ‘God with us’ and He will open a new door if we need it, I promise you. God does make a way. It’s kind of His thing, so friend, be not afraid.
Thanks so much for being with me today, friends. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. Thanks for sharing, rating, reviewing, and subscribing to this podcast as this helps more people to find us and I truly appreciate that, so thanks. If you’d like to support Raised Catholic financially by throwing a few bucks my way, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with lots of resources about how to engage with this topic more deeply for yourself, so do check all of that out. For now, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, in your kindness, you will never leave us stuck in our life of faith. Help us to perceive when it’s time to change direction and give us the courage to seek a new way if that’s where you’re calling us today. Help us to remember that there is no place where you are not, so let us hold tightly to your hand as we walk out our often-winding roads together.
Thank you, Jesus, that we never walk alone. Amen.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Well friend, thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
Episode Show Notes
This week we’re talking about impediments to our relationship with God, how they can draw too much of our focus, and the beautiful reality that the bigness of God means there’s always another way.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or on my blog. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing!
1. Podcast: Another Name for Everything with Fr. Richard Rohr
2. Evolving Faith – Podcast, Conferences, Writing, and more with Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu
3. Beautiful art/caption on transforming faith by Scott Erickson on Instagram
4. Book: The Eternal Current, by Aaron Niequist
5. Book: Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice, by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson
6. Song: The Voyage, by Amanda Cook
7. Lyric Video: Drawn to You, by Audrey Assad
8. Song: Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season), by The Byrds