Received wisdom from several priests is that you don’t become a vicar without being a control freak. Those who live with me, work with me, or indeed spend any time at all with me will know that I do exhibit some signs of needing to be in control. Just sometimes.
I find relinquishing control hard – being at the mercy of other people’s decisions is stressful for me. Knowing someone else will decide when to speak to me, or who to ask to do something, or where I should be at a particular point is hard. But it is also relaxing to let go of some of the decision making – to go with the flow.
Nouwen points out the vulnerability of our position when we let go of control and ask forgiveness from others. I cannot be in control when I admit my failings. Nouwen says this is the point at which “your heart can move from the hardened heart to the heart of flesh”. We become softened.
There is vulnerability in confessing my failings. And two small changes ….There is vulnerability in confessing my feelings. I am reminded of the anger I felt and feel over the way that priesthood of women is perceived by some. I am reminded of my resentment at the stance of the Church on marriage. These are real feelings – real failings, but they need to be softened if I am to be able to seek forgiveness, in the most practical of ways, by working with those of differing views. And there must be integrity about seeking forgiveness – I may repent of being so angry and uncharitable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I change my opinion. How does that fit with being forgiven? is it just another example of Control Freakery? Is it proof that I’m not open to being softened at all?
Nouwen suggests I should ask forgiveness of one person today. I’m very unsure of where or even how to begin.