The work I do as a doctor of psychology has sometimes made me question my faith in God. This is not to claim that I question my own investment in our Creator, but rather prompts me to wonder if I am doing what is intended in terms of goodness and being on the right track. There are times when, in the midst of helping people, I’ve found something important missing in the formula of their life and knew it was vital to address if their recovery was to be within their reach. The important missing ingredient is faith.
The bible tells us that we are accountable to use our life to become the best version of who we were created to be. My priests remind me of this, especially when I am in the confessional and am sharing my feelings of failure and desire to be the best I can be. I also confess my shortcomings when it seems that my ability to guide people towards the light within them falls short and I question every portion of who I am, what I do, and the rightness of my life purpose. This becomes a necessary confession because if I feel my failures, my human condition, my desire to be aligned in meaningfulness, I am then being reflective and deeply craving insight and correction. I want to know my true north, I want to find the ways to honor my Creator, my parents, and my life. I ask for forgiveness where perhaps I am devoid of knowing truth, and I ask for that in the vein of wondering if I am lying to myself in some form of the psychology I teach. I ask for forgiveness in the event that I have sinned against my own blessings and talents and have stepped into audacious and irreverence in thinking that I can help another human being where perhaps only the hand of God can touch and heal. I confess my ego and ask for humility so that I can do my work and live my purpose in authentic kindness and the spirit of genuine mercy.
Confession is a cleansing of our soul, a conversation with a man whose life is dedicated to guiding faith and who has been called to serve and trained to listen in a magnificent way so as to know when faith is genuine and present. It is inside of the confessional that I dive deep and ask to be heard with exceptional judgment and then also exceptional forgiveness. I have faith, deep faith, in this practice. I find it refreshing and revitalizing for my entire spirit, not only for the dialogue, but for the prayerfulness that enter as completion of the confession practice in the way of penance.
Not all Catholics are participants of this practice. Those who are not Catholic are often bewildered by the practice, often asking why a mere mortal man would be worthy of listening and offering forgiveness. Valid questions. The answer is simple and also enormous–it is a matter of faith. There is nothing to defend or argue because it is purely a matter of the heart and what I am invested in knowing in my soul. When I combine my faith practices with my psychology training, and blend them through who it is that I am in my feminine human condition, I find a fluid movement of divine filling every portion of me that then seems to pour out and into others who are my people in need. When they then find themselves receptive, it is a thing of beauty because I see their faith factor has been tapped into and their inner strength can blossom.
Nothing happens without faith because life is simply empty without it. A life without faith is like a ship on the sea that has no direction–you eventually discover that you have no purpose without a destination.
Building upon your inner strength is not an exercise of ego, it is a serious journey of being open and vulnerable, courageous and loving beyond what is mortal affection. It is having an exceptionally deep craving for connectivity that is unshakable because your faith tethers your heart and soul to the idea that love is all that matters. Love of self, love of others, love of God–they are eternal, they are what bring meaning to our existence.
I invite you, I pray, to tap your deepest parts of who you are and allow the experience of faith to be what guides your every breath.