February 28, 2009


Today my son has his first reconciliation ceremony. He went to confession for the first time. Afterward he was so excited he called his grandmother and told her how great he felt about it. She told him what a special event this was and that mom should treat him to something nice. We went to a Christian bookstore and let him pick out a couple of things. He got two books and a sweat shirt. We also got a small gift for a friend celebrating four years of sobriety tonight.

When we were checking out he told the clerk that he had just had his first reconciliation. She spent the next ten minutes telling my son (and me, really, I suppose) that being Catholic was not the real way to God. My son was so excited about what had just happened to him during his reconciliation because he has been preparing since September for it that I was eager to leave the store before she convinced him he did not believe in God the "right" way. She said some things to him that I found horribly offensive...like "when I was Catholic my daughter found Jesus during her first reconciliation and asked Jesus to save her parents" and "you pray to the Lord you don't go talking to angels", etc. I could go into how inaccurate and archaic her understanding of Catholicism is and that Catholic is a religion of Christian belief but I would digress from my primary thoughts....

I was trapped at the register checking out when she took him by himself to show him some bibles. I was mortified. I was shocked. I was nearly speechless. The only thing I could say to her when she said to my son, "Let me go tell you about how to believe in God through Jesus Christ" was, "It really is the same way he already does."

I left there and sat in my car for a moment to collect myself. I called my husband and asked him his opinion on that situation (history: I have always been Catholic, he has always been Baptist but we allow one another the luxury of making our own decisions related to God and have found in many of our discussions that we believe in the same God -- amazing, huh?). He explained a few things about why she might have responded that way but agreed that it was out of line.

I believe how I believe. I am very open to listening to others about how they believe. The reason I am willing to listen is that I am open to learn about other ideas. I am also confident that just listening to the way some else believes won't "rub off on me" and cause me to change my ideas. I can be friends with people, counsel with people and have great discussions with people who don't think in line with the way I think. I like that about me.

Ironically, as we walked into the store my son looked at the name and said, "Christian Book store....does that mean someone who doesn't believe in God can't go in there?". I explained to him how we need to be open and non-judgemental of everyone because they will not learn about God if they aren't given the opportunity. Funny. The lady that worked there needs to be told that.

After I left as I was processing through the events I found myself realizing something that doesn't just apply to religion but my understanding of life in general.....judging someone for not believing or living the way you do alienates them. If you really want that person to have a deeper understanding of your beliefs the way to get to that place does not begin with telling them they are wrong. Why would someone embrace your ideas if you judge them and condemn them for the ones they have?

My clients come to me involved in behaviors that create wreckage in their lives. They would never open up to me or even begin to listen to my ideas about recovery if I told them they were living wrong. They wouldn't even hear me if I told them they need to change. I don't remember feeling this way before. My mom told me people like her were out there...and I guess there are.

I am going to try to learn from this and move forward. I am sure there are many lessons for me.


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