My first (and probably last) blog to ever have a wide viewership was called “My Top Ten Favorite Excuses People Give For Not Going To Church (and my snarky responses to those excuses).” Not only did it get read way more than I could have imagined, it received more comments than I think worthy of it. Some of the comments were really nice and supportive. Some were voicing their hurt or distress at the content and tone of the blog. I did my best to respond to each of those comments because I believe each one was written with sincerity and great feeling. As confused as I was at the volume of readers, I was even more humbled by the reaction it caused. To the Catholics that I offended, I am sorry—it was formed with a loving attitude and a desire to do good. I only used the word “snarky” to grab attention, and then believed that the tone would reveal my true intent.
Now, the title of this blog has the same purpose—to surprise and draw folks in. There are many people who refer to themselves as “Recovering Catholics,” as in; they are recovering from having been Catholic. While it probably shouldn’t, that term makes me chuckle—I think it’s pretty clever—I get that need to “recover.” I could have used that term myself at points, except that I did not leave to do my recovering.
I have worked for the Church for half my life and been an active member for the rest of it; so unfortunately, I’ve had plenty of time to be on the dealing end, and the receiving end of that situation. I won't go into the gory details because it’s none of your business and it would not be helpful to the conversation. But I’ll offer one example of how I was hurt. A few years ago, Pope Benedict said something to the effect of “women who are using natural family planning (NFP) to limit their families to two or three children are not living in the spirit of what it is to be a Catholic family”—that’s not a quote; it’s a general sentiment. This hurt me very deeply as one who tries to live as authentically in right relationship with God as I can. I have always used NFP, and I do just have two children. I have good reasons to try and keep my family small, but feel that I’m being open to God’s plan for my life by using NFP.
But, I am very fortunate. I have been given the understanding that the Church is full of broken humans who, despite their best intentions, miss the mark when trying to represent a perfect, unerring God. I have been the failure, and have been hurt by the failure. And, just as I hope that no one will hold me accountable for all that the Church ought to be, I can’t hold any one, or even several individuals accountable for what the Church ought to be. For me, being a Recovering Catholic means that when I hurt or am hurt, I rely on the grace of God to bring reconciliation and peace in that situation—to recover what was lost or broken—and do my best to effect that good outcome.
Now—haters gonna hate (I know that’s not proper English.)... I do not have any interest in taxidermy, so I don’t go on taxidermy sites to get information on it. I strongly dislike the Dallas Cowboys (I’m an Eagles fan), and I do not have any interest in going on their website to find out what they are up to—it would serve no purpose, but to make me angry. So, perhaps very naively, I was surprised when I received comments from people who either don’t believe in God or hate the Catholic Church—delighted—but surprised. As I am not motivated to read things that either don’t interest me or would make me mad, I really wondered why people in those circumstances would read Catholic stuff. I am going to hazard a guess or two, but am hoping to be schooled if I’m wrong.
I don’t believe that these comments were made from hate—not really. And I don’t think that people want to be in a state of hating. I think we all want the same thing—to love and be loved, to be known and accepted and live fulfilling lives in freedom. So, my guess is that the “haters” are really looking for something beyond what they currently have. I think it’s an effort to reach out and be known and loved. Or, as many of us do, it may be an effort to be convinced that the choices they are making that don’t involve the Church are the right ones—that we will offer proof of their right choices by our jerkiness. But, ultimately, it, too, is a reaching out. So, if I’m right, I pray that you will find what you’re looking for, and I hope with all my heart that we can be a part of your life.