A funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago at the first class I attended for a new Catholic women’s study at my parish.
I walked in and introduced myself to the two women facilitators. “I know who you are,” one of them said, “You spoke at last year’s Catholic Women’s Conference.” Her eyes got really wide and she stumbled a bit on her words. I could tell that she was a bit ‘star-struck.’ I read her mind, “My first time facilitating and she is going to be in my class!” I chuckled quietly to myself, “Oh Honey, you have absolutely nothing to be intimidated about.”
It reminded me of the very first faith study I took when I returned to the Catholic Church. In this study were many of the women who represented to me the “perfect Catholic woman.” These were the women I saw dutifully at weekly Mass every Sunday with their children and husbands by their side. I assumed as a re-vert to Catholicism after twenty years away and married to a non-Catholic, I was far removed from their obvious holiness and faithfulness.
I was so wrong!
It didn’t take long once we began sharing that I witnessed women who had a past like I did, who struggled to be holy as I did and who daily sought to be faithful but many times failed as I did. What a gift I received in that room hearing about their mistakes and their deep love for God and gratitude for his Mercy. As St. Paul says in Romans 3:23, “We all fall short of the grace of God,” yet by sharing our failures and our experiences of God’s mercy, we grow together in holiness and faithfulness.
Before long, these women came down from pedestals I had put them on and into my heart as life-long friends.
By the end of that class a few weeks ago, my facilitator experienced the same. As she spoke of an example of God’s mercy in her life to help me with a struggle I was going through, I noticed her shoulders relax and her fear disappear. I smiled with the thought, “She just took me off that pedestal.”
I am so glad. Now we can journey as two sisters in Christ growing in holiness together and hopefully becoming life-long friends. What a great gift!