I Am a Failure
by Jay Fadden
I am a failure! There is no other way to put it. Why am I such a failure? Let me explain. I wrote a blog recently, and in the comment section, Patrick asked the following:
“A topic of interest to me is how to be a good Catholic man in the secular 'guy' world. i.e. How to be relevant and have influence by being 'one of the guys' while still being true to your faith and evangelizing effectively.”
I have reflected on that question for over a week and have come to the conclusion that I am a failure. I am an absolute and total failure, and that is OK with me. That statement may be jarring, so let me explain. To be a good Catholic in today’s world can be a challenge. There are so many distractions and temptations that trying to live up to the beautiful teachings of our faith can be difficult. I fail every day because I am not perfect. My failures may not be colossal, but I could certainly do better.
But the key for me is that I keep trying. I do not give up trying to live as a good Catholic. I also realize that I can continue to move forward through my failures towards becoming a better person. I can learn from them. I am not paralyzed by my mistakes—I am inspired to improve. I do not always succeed, but I am the little engine that could—I keep working and climbing that hill. I also realize that I am a totally different person today than I was two, five, twenty years ago. I am a different person than I was yesterday, and I cannot and will not hold myself hostage by past mistakes, knowing that I am different now. Every moment is an opportunity to grow in my faith and as a person. Is it easy? No way! But I need to keep focusing on improving.
I thought about what Patrick said about being “one of the guys” and still being true to your faith. It is a question that many of us have asked. That question can weigh us down and stunt our potential if we dwell on it too much. It can also make us better people if we continue to ask the question, “who am I?”
I have many hobbies. I play a lot of musical instruments, coach and play sports, and like to hang out with my family, so I am around the “guys” a great deal. So how do I try to stay true to my faith and evangelize effectively? First, I try to never judge people. I have enough problems of my own and do not want others to judge me. I will leave that up to God. I do not know what stresses people are under and what challenges they face. The decisions they make are based on experiences that I may not fully understand, comprehend, or appreciate. It does not mean I agree with those decisions; it only means that I need to be cognizant that situations may exist that color their decisions. An example is in my love for my sisters. We may disagree on a topic, but that does not mean that I love them any less. It only means that our perceptions and experiences have led us to a different conclusion on something.
So how do I approach the guys and try to evangelize effectively? By just being me. I do not shy away from talking about my faith. If they ask what I am doing on Sunday, I will always start by saying that I am going to church. If they ask a question about my faith, I try to answer it concisely and clearly. If I do not know the answer, I tell them it is a good question, but I do not know the answer and will do a little research. I make it clear that I am not perfect and am a work in progress. My faith is never hidden. My family prays at every meal, whether at home or at a restaurant. If there is a person of another faith at our table, the prayer is changed a bit to be more inclusive. I talk about church and what it means to my family and me and about the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
But I make sure that I am answering questions and meeting people where they are in their journey. I try to listen—not to respond, but to really listen to what they are saying and what that means. Everyone is different and open to different experiences, so I just live my faith and make it part of who I am. I hope for opportunities to open the hearts and minds of people. We can never turn our backs on others. To be “one of the guys” means you truly care for them and accept them for where they are in their faith journey, no matter where it may be. I am so grateful for the friends that I have in my life. While we may differ on topics, I know that they are special and kind to me. I hope that how I live my life might attract them to the faith we cherish and love.
When I was a young child, a teacher once used an example to teach us how to spell the word “friend.” She said, “Always remember, a friend until the end.” To be a friend or “one of the guys” means you are willing to take the bad with the good and are also willing to face the tough questions. People notice how you live, and it does make a difference.
I hope this helps answer your question, Patrick, and thank you for asking it!