“Our response to God’s superabundant forgiveness should be always to preserve that healthy tension between a dignified shame and a shamed dignity. It is the attitude of one who seeks a humble and lowly place, but who can also allow the Lord to raise him up for the good of the mission, without complacency.”
Recently I was listening to a presentation about Catholic family life. The presenters were offering a really beautiful framework for how to consider the Domestic Church and what the elements were to create this ideal. As they shared specific examples of some do’s and don’ts, I found myself cringing at times. I thought about friends and family who were struggling in their marriages and family life and how they might feel if they were listening to this talk. But honestly, more than that, I found myself replaying the tape of my own domestic leadership over the past 12 years and I wasn’t enjoying the movie. "I’m a good dad. I work hard. Don’t they know how difficult it is? Why should I feel ashamed?" I thought to myself more than once. My belief in that moment was to dismiss the content that was being offered. "Sounds good, never gonna happen."
Later on, I was still struggling with my reaction and debriefed it with a good priest friend. He first offered me the affirmation of my parenting that I was craving and then offered me a challenge. "Dan, a little shame can go a long way – good or bad." I looked at him with a confused face. "Shame in and of itself isn’t always a bad emotion particularly if it pushes us to realize the times we fall short or the opportunities we have to grow. It becomes a problem when we allow it to define us or become overly defensive or dismiss the ideal we’re striving for." In faith and leadership, how often do I want to move the goal post because I’m falling short? Rather than reflecting on the changes I could make to move closer, how might I be deflecting in order to stay still? The Lord loves me where I am and at the same time wants to accompany me as I try and take the next step toward the ideal of who He calls me to be. Can I love myself the same way? I reread a transcript of the talk and this time made notes about what I could celebrate and a goal or two I could shoot for in the week ahead. It was a lot better movie the second time around. So shame on all of us this week, if it helps us realize that with God’s help all things are possible.