Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a regular part of my spiritual life. Reviewing my thoughts, words and actions, looking at where I need to make changes and admitting my shortcomings to another human being helps me live more intentionally.
One transgression I don’t ever remember confessing is envy—because I tend to be quite content with my life.
Recently, though, I heard myself saying words I regretted the moment they out of my mouth. I knew I needed to apologize, but before I did, I wanted to understand what had prompted this comment.
I prayed for insight.
Pondering the situation, I realized I envied the woman I had spoken to; I was envious of a part of her life that reminded me of what I used to have but have lost.
Five years ago, I moved “home” after having lived away for almost forty years. That move changed my proximity to some friends and the things we used to do together. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that part of my old life until I heard this woman talking about a trip she had recently taken with her friends.
I was happy for her and the fun she had, but a week later—and not even thinking or talking about her trip—I said something totally irrelevant and rude. I was speaking out of the past, a past I have lost and apparently still mourn.Understanding doesn’t change or fix what is wrong, but it helps me to apologize sincerely and to figure out what adjustments I need to make to act differently in the future.
In this situation, my words led me to reflect on developing more friends in my new home—or perhaps initiating more with my family and the friends I do have.
When I moved home, I decided that I would not expect people to accommodate me—to make space for me in their lives—because I did not want to have unrealistic expectations. I knew that their lives had gone on without me while I chose to live away.
Developing realistic expectations can be tricky because expectations that are too high can lead to disappointment and expectations that are too low can lead to—well, I think in this situation, loneliness.
I realized that a fear of disappointment or rejection led me to develop extremely low expectations.
As I look back on the five years since my move, I can see that some of my attempts at initiating have been rejected and I have been disappointed on occasion. But more often, family and friends have embraced me and responded positively to my suggested activities.
Building a new life has been a challenge, and even though I am deeply grateful to be living near my family, my rude comment tells me that I still have a ways to go before I am totally content with my new life. Admitting that is the first step toward changing it. Letting go of what was also helps.