That Was My Mistake

We’ve all been there. We pour out our hearts, about a matter of great personal significance, to someone who appears willing to listen, only to hear, in response, some i-dont-careversion of this line: “I’m sorry, but I believe you have mistaken me for someone who cares.”

Perhaps the response has never been that crass or that brazen, but we’ve all encountered folks who, we think, ought to share our concern or our fear or our commitment in a certain matter. Trouble is, they don’t, and the consequence, for us, can be disappointing, if not devastating.

It has taken years, but I finally understand the degree to which this principle has been at work in my own experience. I thought somebody would care. They didn’t. That was my mistake.

I thought folks would respect me for making difficult choices in order to act in a way that was consistent with my developing convictions, even when they didn’t share those convictions. Some did. Many did not.

I thought folks would appreciate the courage it took to follow a path that led out of my comfort zone and into a new area fraught with uncertainty and unfamiliarity, even if they would never have chosen that path for themselves. Some did. Many did not.

I thought that folks in the “new country” would recognize how much it cost me to forsake my previous “homeland” and emigrate to a land where I was new and untested but rich with experience and intangible resources from which my new compatriots could benefit. A few did. Most did not.

That was my mistake.

I never anticipated how difficult it would be to follow the leading of the Spirit. I never knew how much it would cost, how discouraged I would become, how lonely.

I should have known. Jesus told me. For example, this is what He said in Luke 14.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

And this, in Luke 9.

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

I made my choices. I followed my convictions. I took the path, as Robert Frost wrote, which was “the one less traveled by.” But I wasn’t prepared for the consequHand to plowences.

That was my mistake.

And now I am tired. And my shaky hand is about to let go of the plow.

Lord, have mercy.


10 thoughts on “That Was My Mistake

  1. I care, Eric, albeit from a distance. I continue to appreciate your honesty and bravery. Keep hanging on to God and to the plow….

  2. Here’s a thought. I hesitate to say, lest I sound presumptious. Yet I offer it as food for mind to ponder, and it arises out of my own wrestlings with church and Church and God.
    Perhaps your assumption that God would contiue using the same means to reward your following is among the roots of your present state. In that God used some localized manifestation of the Church to use your skills as you honed and grew them, in that God used that mechanism several times over the course of a life of ministry to put the daily bread on your board, it may well be that the subtle but persistent failings of the Church have rendered such avenues inadequate for what God desires to do with your capacities and willingness to follow Him. Though your situation is economically disastrous and personally frustrating to the core, in my opinion the shaking of the hand on the plow handle is not sourced by an inadequacy on God’s part nor on yours. The weakness is simply a manifestation of the general and common position of mankind, and He knows & considers that we are but dust. The shakiness is more likely a manifestation of the failings of Church as well as of church, and if you release all grasp of the institutional church it need not necessitate the letting-go of plowing in the fields of Jesus.
    Courage my friend. When all else fails there is still the touch of Christ and the Creator God upon our souls through the Eucharist, and the abiding presence of the triune God both personally within and by way of the people who, like you, are quickened bodily by His Spirit.

    • Thanks for this thoughtful response, Marty. I have read it several times, and I think I know what you are saying. My problem is that, if God is working differently in my current situation than He has ever worked before, I’m not sure I know how to recognize that. I’m trying to be open to the creativity of the Spirit, but I fear that I have become spiritually de-sensitized through a prolonged period of uncertainty and lack of movement. It’s like I’m suffering some sort of spiritual atrophy. I’m considering some sort of retreat as a means to exercising and re-energizing my spiritual receptors and sensors. I do appreciate your counsel. Grace and peace to you, my brother. –Eric

  3. Praying Psalm 112:4 over you…I hope you see your light soon. And Jesus did tell us how much it would cost…but I guess he has the right as perhaps the most misunderstood, misused, rejected, lonely individual who walked the earth…pleading and struggling with His Father to please take this cup away. That same God who was alone in sorrow, misunderstood, criticized, and struggling to do the Father’s will is walking this road with you. Keep pulling that plow toward the suffering Christ. With deepest respect…

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