Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Any fan of the TV show Seinfeld knows what this phrase means. It is a polite way of “getting out telling the truth” when breaking off a relationship. The truth of this phrase, when used in common practice, really says, “I can’t stand you. You stifle me. You keep me in a box. You don’t respect me. You don’t allow me to be who I really am. I’m leaving you!” You get the point.

But today, I want to imagine the phrase as genuine. When someone departs from the normal path of the Church, we often hear excuses similar to the above statements from broken relationships. I RARELY hear, in fact I can’t recall ever hearing it at all, “The, ‘It’s not you, it’s me, routine,’” to borrow a phrase from Seinfeld.

What if we lived in a world in which people were honest with the reason they leave the Church?
“It’s not the Church’s fault; I just don’t like being told that I have to deny my own desires in exchange for the desires God has for me in my life.”
“It’s not the Church’s fault; I just don’t have the intention of going to Church every Sunday.”
“It’s not the Church’s fault; I just don’t have the desire to dedicate my life to Christ.”
“It’s not the Church’s fault; I just don’t have the desire to limit my lifestyle.”
“It’s not the Church’s fault; I just don’t want to be told what the Bible means.”
Instead we normally hear...
“Doesn’t the Church know I have too many things to do on Sundays?”
“I’m not a Saint. I don’t need a Church that tries to change who I really am inside.”
“God doesn’t make mistakes, and He made me. He loves me just the way I am.”
“The Bible was written a long time ago, and times have changed.”
While I will be the first to admit that not every Priest or Parish is the perfect place to encounter God; let’s face it, there is NO perfect Priest of Parish. That doesn’t mean that the life the Church has outlined, guided by the Holy Spirit, doesn’t have something to offer our journey toward oneness with God. I suppose I just want people to be honest, and admit they have no desire to live the life of the Church, rather than blaming the Church for being too preachy or too demanding.

When Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me,” I’m pretty sure He wasn’t using the “It’s not you, it’s Me,” routine. Just a thought.

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