No man is an island unto himself. Sound familiar?
For a long time I believed I could heal myself through putting into practice the things I’d read about personal development. I studied and I understood what I was studying (thought I did anyway). It made sense, sounded perfectly logical. I went to practice it and found myself succeeding when I could actually remember to put the things I’d learned into effect. Most of the time, life seemed to move too fast or little crises popped up here and there and I’d backslide into those same old patterns again.
The result – slow and incremental improvement over a period of time followed pronounced downward spirals. A little tidbit remembered and practiced regularly but no sweeping change. I’d forgive (or what seemed like forgiving), then I’d forget but something would happen and all the hurt would return to the surface, like an open wound.
What would I dream for? To just wake up one day and have it all feel natural. Loving people, helping people, inspiring people, not accepting excuses from people, enforcing clear boundaries with people, and holding people accountable. To do the right thing at the right time and have it be as easy as tying my shoes…that’s what I wanted. I hoped and hoped that one day everything I’d learned would soak in and I would just wake up transformed.
What Was Missing?
Common thread up above…people, people, people, people and people. But I wasn’t building relationships with people as I was trying to improve myself. I could count my close male friends on less than one hand. I could look at a list of people in my life and honestly say I knew them through work or through my wife. Is that it? Is that why so few of these changes had taken hold? Is that why I was seemingly always back at square one, starting over?
A book, suggested to me by my friend and mentor Seth Czerepak, answered all my questions about the importance of relationships in healing, growing and changing. Perhaps you’ve heard of Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud. No book, except maybe The Bible, has taught me more about the critical role of relationships in maturing into full adulthood. On one hand, I was astounded but, on the other, I had always known deep down inside that this was the one thing holding me back – the one way I was holding myself back.
I started looking for Christian support groups as I was to meet like-minded people and develop relationships but nothing spoke to me. My internet searches were often futile. Then I learned my brother-in-law was participating in an upcoming Catholic men’s retreat called Christ Renews His Parish. Sounded interesting in my heart but my head was resistant, like it usually is.
Could I be Convinced?
He said the retreat was great and he’d also started participating in the meetings that followed. I considered attending one at Holy Trinity seriously from that point forward. Then one Sunday, a speaker came to the ambo at the end of Mass at my church.
He was completely on fire with the Holy Spirit. I wanted to feel what he was feeling. I wanted to be as confident as he was. I wanted to inspire with words the way he did. He was inviting the men and women of Holy Trinity to the upcoming Christ Renews His Parish retreats.
Before that day, I was 90% sure I was going to attend. After his speech ended, I was ready to go home, turn on my laptop and sign up right there and then.
So I did.
Question: When has the positive influence of another inspired you to finally make a decision you’d been contemplating? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the form of a comment below…