“Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion.”

– Pope Francis

Recently, I had one of those weeks that brought with it one challenging piece of news after another: an unfavorable project update followed by a disappointing discussion, some upsetting news about a friend, a difficult one-on-one conversation—the hits just kept coming. While there wasn't one specific thing that was, in and of itself, a huge deal, the drip, drip, drip of downers, issues, and complaints left me feeling desperate for Friday to arrive and my sweatpants to greet me. Even my two-minute commute home at the end of the week was occupied by an unexpected call that needed resolution. As I made a beeline for my cozies and a beer at home, I received a text from someone I hadn’t heard from in a while with some very kind words. My wife walked into the kitchen as I stared at the text. I showed it to her and asked suspiciously, “What do you think this is about?” Reading the nice words, she looked back at me with just as much suspicion and said, “Why don’t we talk about your reaction to it and what that’s about?”

I realized the week’s barrage had hardened my heart so much that I wasn’t even able to receive a heartwarming text without assuming the defensive position. As leaders, we’re often encouraged to “develop a thick skin” and “to be ready for anything.” At what point do the fortifications that build up over time not only protect us from potential hurt, but also prevent us from growing or enjoying life? Whether it’s feedback, a suggestion, or maybe even affirmation, can I really hear what others are truly trying to offer me without it being overly colored by past hurts or cynicism? Can I believe that despite all my old wounds and scars, the Lord wants to do something new in me?

I put on my sweatpants, reread the beautiful text, and thanked the sender for making my week. As we continue through Lent and filter through our interior inboxes, let’s remember the words of Psalm 95, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Prayers that you’re open to what’s incoming.

by Daniel Cellucci

March 17, 2023

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