When I’m standing in front of the room of eighth-graders, grabbing their attention from the arm wrestling or fashion talk with captivating tales of adventure, it’s easy to be Catholic.
When I’m sharing with another mom why I value spiritual direction so much, it’s easy to be Catholic.
When I’m penning an article or writing a blog post, it’s easy to be Catholic.
And then there’s the REST of my life.
When the toddler screams as we walk into the grocery store, the six-year-old insists on something a certain way, and the nine-year-old scowls and stubs her toe as she shoots her attitude arrows right at me…
When the day has been too long, I answer the phone to someone who doesn’t know me, and find myself turning into a monster at a misunderstanding…
When someone–anyone–points out how wrong I am, how unjust I’ve been, how imperfect I live…
And the list goes on…and on…and on.
The times when it’s hard to remember what it is to be “Catholic Christian” is far longer than the times it’s easy. I’ve noticed there’s a theme, though.
At home, in the privacy of my own life or in the circles of Safe People I Know and Trust, it’s far easier to be Catholic than it is out in the Big Bad World, where I’m sure to be considered uncool and foolish and probably also dumb.
Being Catholic may mean I just keep quiet when a group of parents start gossiping at a birthday party. I don’t even know who they’re talking about…except, oh yes, yes I do. And…it’s someone I like.
Last year, at a horse show where hot dogs were the only meal item on a Friday evening in Lent, I found myself munching chips and kicking myself as my blood sugar plummeted. What was I to do? I needed protein and the hot dogs were the only choice.
Let’s just say I fail. I fail A LOT.
Those failures keep me humble. They remind me that, while perfection is my goal, it might not be something I attain today (or much). But I have to keep striving for it.
The battle is daily and, sometimes, hourly. Though I maintain that it’s easier to be Catholic in my insular world, I wonder how much of Jesus’ love my kids feel on a day when Mommy’s having a meltdown. I wonder if my husband feels closer to heavenly pursuits as a result of his time with me. I wonder if any of the extended family are inspired to do more than roll their eyes after an encounter with me.
But you know what? It’s not about me. Not really. Not ever.
Being Catholic—whether I’m in the world or just in my world—is, for me, all about focus. I have to keep my eyes trained on the crucifix, my heart aimed toward the Eucharist, and my soul safe in Mary’s care.