You know that saying: whenever you point a finger at someone else, four fingers are pointing back at you? (Well, it’s really three, as you can see, but…)
I think about that a lot in the context of Intentional Catholic. Anything I write, integrity forces me to turn back on myself, mirror-like.
I’ve been struggling through the Bible in a Year podcast… valuing it for the sake of hearing Scripture in a way that helps me grasp the historical context, but struggling because sometimes the commentaries really set me off. The one on Matthew 25—which is sort of the whole foundation of Intentional Catholic–pretty much gave permission for people to say “I’m clothing my naked children and feeding my hungry family. I’m covered.” In fairness, I do not believe that’s what he intended to convey, but it certainly does give tacit permission to ignore the plight of ACTUAL poverty and suffering.
Which is not to belittle feeding and clothing a family. I am up to the tips of my frizzy curls in caring for kids. It’s a real thing.
But it doesn’t negate our responsibility to the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable. First of all because keeping our kids fed and clothed is only a sliver of what keeps us so busy. The vast majority of what keeps us hopping is not essential. We could ALL cut back on some of our luxury and busy-ness and refocus some of that energy on the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable.
But as I sat there stewing and fuming over this, it occurred to me that me sitting in my house writing blogs and social media posts is not clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, either.
Here’s the thing. The conventional wisdom is that not everyone is called to everything. We are supposed to find what we, individually, are called to.
But I am an Enneagram 1, which means I’m very concerned with Getting It Right. For myself AND for the larger world. Enneagram 1s are deeply susceptible to scrupulousness. (Scrupulosity?)
The trouble is, when I, as an Enneagram 1, try to parse out what I feel most passionate about, I can’t do it. It all matters!
I have a child with a disability. Our health care system of access & payment is deeply dysfunctional and a burden on families.
My conscience stings every time I see a homeless person at an exit ramp. How dare we drive by, avoiding eye contact to preserve our own comfort? How dare people on my “Nextdoor” app call them “zombies,” as if these are not human beings with the same innate dignity as themselves?
I see the chaos and suffering that causes people in Central America to flee for the U.S.—and the way some people here villainize those who are desperate for the same security we treat as a divine right. How can I not be passionate about refugee and immigration?
I have godchildren and family members whose skin color will make them a target when they grow up. How can I not rail against those who deny systemic racism?
I had infertility that the medical community wanted to treat by slapping bandaids on it (birth control, artificial procedures) while ignoring the problems that caused it. We have a family because an NFP doctor took the time to find the root cause (PCO + agricultural chemicals in the water—how can I not be passionate about the environment?). So when I see how abortion is the symptom of a host of other problems that are systemic in our culture, how can I fail to rage at those who want to address the symptom while ignoring the causes?
I don’t know what my “one” issue is, because dang it, they’re all equally important. Thank you very much, Enneagram 1. But I can’t do everything. For years, I’ve been trying to learn to respect my limits, to create healthy boundaries.
But sooner or later you have to say “yes,” too.
So for now, I am working a shift at the Food Bank into my schedule, and exploring volunteer possibilities with Refugee and Immigration Services. Because at least there’s a known entry point there.
I am not going to stop talking. But I’m going to start mixing more action in with it.