Today begins the Fortnight for Freedom (or the F4F as Catholic Mutt hilariously puts it).
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I am proud of our bishops and excited to have my little voice join others in demanding the religious freedom promised to us by the founding fathers. On the other hand, I'm a little bit terrified. Make that a lot terrified.
I do not handle confrontation well. When faced with a situation where things are going downhill fast, I will a)retreat, b)fly into a rage, or c)burst into tears. When I try to engage in any way with people on, say, facebook who are hating hardcore on my (and usually supposedly their) Catholic faith, I usually end up retreating, shutting down. I don't know how to spar. I don't know how to gently teach someone something. I have zero confidence in my knowledge of catechism or any other particulars of my faith.
I should have more confidence than this. After a painfully shy childhood, I have grown into a self-assured woman. My lack of ability in this area makes me want to kick myself. I mean, what am I afraid of?
First, and probably most, I'm afraid of being wrong. What if I say something and it's wrong?!
A close second, I'm afraid of having no answer at all.
Third, what if I drive people further away? Family, friends, acquaintances - I worry that I would drive them away from coming to an understanding rather than bringing them closer together.
Isn't there someone more qualified for this job than I am?!
Deep breaths, Jan, deep breaths.
At Mass on Sunday back in my hometown, we sang Be Not Afraid. You know, that song that every Catholic has sung at least 368,000 times? Well, this was the first time, out of all of those previous 367,999 times singing the song, that I really heard what it was saying. My first "duh" moment was in the first verse, and that's for another post, but my second was at the end, when the last verse picks up some of the beatitutes.
"And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of me, blessed, blessed are you."
Hello, Jan! Jesus left you instructions for times like this. You have to be not afraid, and you have to put yourself out there. For fourteen days. You can do that. (Yes I am giving myself a peptalk right now). Some people that you love are going to be upset by what you believe, but you have the right to believe it. You have the right to live this way, and you want to keep this right. You don't know what will happen because of this, but you shouldn't be afraid, because God is right there, right ahead of you. He is leading the way.
Be not afraid, be not afraid.