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Thursday, April 24, 2014

"I'm not the same man."

He didn't live on the cross.  Nor should we.


I remember coming back home for the first time after my first semester of college.  A lot had happened in those two or three months since I left Durham.  I went on Freshman Retreat, and I recommitted myself to saving sex for marriage again.  I met my best friend Anthony who was (and has continued to be to this day) one of my main brothers who has challenged me to be a better version of myself.  And I was on the verge of finishing my formation to join a brotherhood, Esto Vir, Latin for “Be a Man”, which was basically a group of screw-up Catholic guys who desire to strive to be better men and hold each other accountable.  It was all part of what I consider my “conversion” story that took me on a different path the rest of my life.

But when I got home, it was really easy to forget how far I came.  I was back home, and the last time in Durham, I was in high school.  And when I was in high school I did this, this, and that.  Very quickly, I felt the old temptations rush into me, and very soon, I fell into many of them.  It was then when I began to wonder if I had even changed.  “Am I the same guy from before?”

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Fast forward seven and a half years later, and I’m reflecting on last week’s talk at our St. Andrew’s Men’s Group. Fr. Dan had us reflect that in our journey of stumbles, we have to reflect that we are no longer the same men that we were ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago.  “Some people keep themselves on the cross,” Fr. Dan said. “They forget that three days later Jesus resurrected.  He’s alive!  We have to live in the joy of the Resurrection Sunday, not the sorrowfulness of Good Friday.”
“You’re going to have hiccups, some stumbles,” he continued.”  “But you’re on the right path now.  And when you do ever have a small fall, you have to tell yourself, ‘I’m not the same man.  I’m not the same man.’.  Because you’re not!  Don’t let yourself listen to the lie that you’re back to your old self.  You’re not your old self, and neither is Jesus.  We have to resurrect with Him.”

It’s hard, especially as prideful men, to admit when we’re wrong.  To admit when we fall.  To admit we
fell short.  The first thing we want to do is hide, to make excuses, maybe even to blame someone or something else.  As hard as it is, I believe it is in these moments that have the greatest opportunity to be courageous.  To face the fire against ourself.  No excuses.  What if we lived in a world of complete transparency between our loved ones, the ones closest to us, even those we work with?  No secrets.  Complete disclosure and complete trust.

I believe in it so much in passing it on to the men I meet and talk with, that I force myself to face my own fires in my own life.  It’s tough, but it’s always more courageous to face the music then to hide from it.  What kind of virtue do I want to pass on to my own son one day?  Lies, excuses, and defensive blaming?  Or taking responsibility for our actions, owing up and apologizing, and proving with our further actions that we can be trusted?  Facing the hurtful music is the only way we can learn from our mistakes.

Pride is my number one sin, and I think it’s the number one for many men.  I apologize if I ever come off as I have it together. I admit, maybe I want to appear that way.  Well, I don’t have it together.  Not ever without God.  I always, always, always need Him, and so much happier and joyful for it, too.  
And if you fall my brothers, you have to remind yourself and tell yourself: “I’m not the same man.”  Get back up, and move forward again, and again, and again.  Because Jesus died, but He resurrected.  And so must we.

Amén.


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