My youngest has OCD and I am here to tell you that the OCD apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. Oh how I wish it did.
Let's just say I've got low self-esteem with a touch of OCD thrown in. Most people who know me think I'm probably quite full of myself. I don't know. Truth is, I walk around thinking about my failures. A lot. This week has been especially hard with finding out just how noncompliant my youngest has been with his medical treatments. Makes a mom feel like quite a failure.
At some point last year, a priest told me I should confess by kind and number. That was a revelation for this Catholic mom, so I have been working on that... meaning... ahem, I work on my wordiness. Have I ever mentioned I talk? A lot. Then, I obsess that any amount of talking bothers people. Okay, I obsess, in general, about bothering people. Pretty much get to feeling my mere existence disturbs folks. It's me, not them. I mean that. I'm always afraid that I'm a burden to people. I grew up with family members who frequently told me they hated me. So, while I get that is abnormal and other people aren't that way, it has always been a life long struggle!
What have I learned this last year? This is awesome..... are you ready for this? If the confessor needs more info, they ask. Another revelation. How freeing is that!? Just the facts ma'am.
So back to my confession stories. You know we've all been there, but no one ever goes around talking about what happens in the confessional. Seriously, who does that!? I do, sometimes... because it is an important part of our faith. Always humbling, sometimes very emotional, and many times, at least in my case, pretty darn funny. Not the confession part, my thoughts and reactions. The grace is amazing. It brings me to my knees in thanksgiving. Sometimes I cry because the grace is overwhelming. Sometimes I cry because I can't get over myself. Mostly the former.
Last month, I went to confession and the priest gave me a 5 day penance. My first thought was, "Dear Lord, how will I ever remember to do this between everything else?" My second thought was, "Dang, five days? Was I that bad?" Ahh... but the grace was amazing. The priest knew EXACTLY what I needed to do to get back on track with my life. I had really been struggling with certain areas of my life and my penance was perfect. Guided by the Holy Spirit.
I don't think any confession will ever beat the confession where the priest yelled at me so loudly that I KNOW the entire church heard. The only time I have ever slinked out of confession. I can still hear his voice. He meant well. I guess? I also love those times when people are complaining in the confession line and I wrack up more sins for my uncharitable thoughts.
This morning after Mass, I went to confession. I sat down and the lady in front of me told me that Father didn't have time to hear confessions today. I asked, "Oh, so he's not hearing them?" She remarked, "No, he just has an appointment and is in a hurry." I'd examined my conscience several times and I was ready. Then comes the overwhelming feeling that I am somehow imposing on his time because he has to get going. So I rattle through my sins.... listen, then said my act of contrition. A little faster than normal, but I think I annunciated the words and didn't stumble. Then comes the (in a very nice voice-emphasis on nice)- "I'm going to add something to your penance." My first thought was, "Oh my word, what have I done now!?" Father said very nicely something like, "After you leave here, I want you to go into the church and say your act of contrition again SLOWLY..."
My first thought was, "I really suck because I can't even say I'm sorry correctly." I knelt and said the act of contrition at least five times. Really. The first time I thought it might have been too fast again. The second and third times I was preoccupied with the fact that I am a complete failure at confession and saying I'm sorry. The fourth time, I just started crying. I think I finally got it on the fifth (sixth) try. Then I cried all the way home. I called a friend. I told you I had OCD because only would a crazy Catholic with OCD obsess over this.
What do I think the lesson was? Well, it wasn't "don't go to confession when you are emotionally raw and haven't slept in a few weeks." Once again, I learned that I really just need to get over myself. Ouch. I was also reminded that we human beings are always in a hurry, worried about being late, have appointments but God isn't and doesn't. When we are in confession, we should never rush. It's God's time and we receive sanctifying grace in confession. I really should have slowed down and let that sanctifying grace soak in.