Soul Searching

I’ve been thinking a lot about my present life situation these days. Over the past 6 years I’ve become one of the experts in my ministry field, built a national web presence for the Paulists, started and co-hosted a podcast, and led a very successful retreat program (probably what I’m most proud of). I also have been a husband for just under five years and am hopefully going to become a father in the coming year, if adoption plans go through. I’ve travelled to three different countries and two of those countries I’ve now been to three times (Nicaragua and Canada-Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver and Victoria). Oh yeah, I got a Master’s Degree and I wrote a book.

Whew!

So what am I longing for in my life these days? Seemingly I have lots of accomplishments–that I am indeed proud of. Yet, I have a burning hunger for more. BustedHalo has grown up and is basically under the more than capable hands of Bill McGarvey. I still contribute to the site and produce the blog and the ask father joe series…but it certainly has been a reduction in the need for me to hover over day to day operations.

Since I’m not a priest, I often get overshadowed by my boss, Fr Dave..who is very gregarious and extroverted. Like me, he likes control, has strong expectations, and loves the limelight. Because he’s a priest, he naturally gets more pastoral opportunities–and people are more naturally drawn to him for counselling and pastoral work. Like me, he’s a great presenter…and I mean lights out. He’s funny, charming, and always on.

Somehow it all feels like a competition for pastoral attention…which is good and bad. Competition by design pushes us to be better. So I think I demand excellence of myself. At the same time, I feel that we sometimes have a less than collaborative relationship…not that we don’t work well together…we do. It’s more of a ownership issue. I often get to play the secondary role, or a visioning role –while someone else gets to finish the project or flesh out an idea I began. While I don’t mind having my ideas twisted and turned and I have the ability to “be in the room” and let others pick away at the brainstorming sessions where we debate ideas–I often don’t feel like I’m owning any of it for myself–where my compadres seem to grasp more tightly to a project that they can own for themselves and are given full credit.

I’m sure I’ll feel differently when my book actually is in print. But that’s a year away. Sigh.

I’ve given some thought to becoming a deacon. My thinking is that maybe I earn more respect with ordination and maybe more doors open for me ministerially. The lay person is often looked upon by the laity as “secondary”. And in some ways rightfully so. And there are many restrictions on what I can and can’t do as a lay person and professional minister in the Catholic Church. Recently, I had to turn down a request by someone to officiate at their wedding. I was touched that they even considered asking me–but obviously that’s something I can’t do. I led a wake service for my wife’s family once and while sad…it was one of the great joys of my life to bring comfort to those in pain. Ironically, the wake was for my wife’s uncle Andy who was a Deacon and a big inspiration to me.

So in the coming year, I’m giving thought to where I feel most called and what I have to contribute. What can I do that’s uniquely me? I’m putting myself in my own life coaching program and asking myself the big question:

If I could do anything tomorrow, what would that be like?

I’ll be blogging about this from time to time. So stay tuned and weigh in with your own thoughts…I’m sure to find that helpful.