What does my faith cost me?

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Intentional Catholic has been on my mind a long time, but among the many things that gave me pause was the cost.

I don’t mean money. I’m thinking of the time it takes, for one thing. (I spend a lot of time on this.) I quit blogging several years ago because the cost-benefit analysis didn’t work anymore.

But more than that, I was dreading the emotional cost. Writing a blog like this is an exercise in balance. I don’t have all the answers and I’d darned well better not act like I do. Who would want to read that? It’s intrinsically egotistical to think little ol’ me has any spiritual insights to offer anyone at all. (I wrote about this on my personal blog a few years ago.)

More even than that, the emotional cost is the risk of breaking relationships. I knew there’s no way to talk about living the faith in the real world without addressing contentious issues. And in the past few years, I’ve experienced personally the cost of relationships damaged by incompatible world views. It’s steep. It hurts… a lot. I’ve lost a lot of sleep battling the anxiety caused by broken relationships and the fear of breaking more by standing up for the things God has taught me (also at great personal cost) in the past few years. Things many religious people don’t want to hear.

But I also knew the call was real, because I couldn’t escape it. It pursued me all the time, across Facebook, the news, and my personal interactions.

Then, this past January, someone I admire greatly asked a group of us to consider: “What has my witness to the faith cost me? And if the answer is ‘nothing,’ what does that tell me?”

Those two questions exploded in my head. It was a signpost from God–one of the clearest I’ve ever received. If I was serious about all this “living the faith intentionally” stuff, I had to take the leap.

Who am I to speak about the things I see God telling me about faith in the real world?

But who am I to withhold what God is calling me to share? I am his hands and feet and voice in the world, said Teresa of Avila.

I knew this project would hit nerves. The writings of the Church skewer us all at some point. They’re supposed to. They’re meant to call us out of the world. All of us cling tightly to worldly concerns in some facet of our lives, and all of us react the same way when those idols are challenged.

But I also feel confident I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, because for the first time, I’m not losing (much) sleep over fear and anxiety. For the first time in all the years I’ve spent trying to identify my “target audience,” I know exactly who I’m supposed to reach: my fellow Catholics. For the first time, when I consider the question, “What has my witness to the faith cost me?” I can say I know what it is–and add that it isn’t as hard to bear as I thought it would be—because I rest in confidence that God has my back.

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