31 Mar I Had Failed Again
by Peter Gravelle
I have learned that healing comes in stages.
In 2009, I received a tremendous life-changing grace that set me free from a lifelong lie that had trapped me into thinking that I had been condemned for committing an unforgiveable sin that excluded me from the mercy of God.*
After receiving this grace, I was able, for the first time, to open my heart to the love of God without fear, with a confidence that I was loved and could love in return.
This new-found ability to just sit in the chapel and let myself experience the love of God brought so much joy and freedom. Moreover, the tremendous grace I received enabled me, over time, to face other lies. And it didn’t take long for this to begin to happen.
Three months after I had received that major grace, I was asked to head up a project—the renovation of St. Mary’s third floor dormitories. (St. Mary’s is a part of MH Combermere.)
Because of a work order from the fire chief, we only had a three-month window in which to get the work done. And it was a massive job.
We gutted the floor, tore down walls and built new ones; we put in new electricity, heating, and insulation. We dry walled and made new closets, shelves, and beds.
I called that summer “the summer of miracles,” because what happened was that all through that summer, the Lord kept sending men guests who were plumbers, contractors, painters, etc. I had never before seen so many working guests who were tradesmen come at the same time.
At the end, with a lot of effort on the part of everyone, we got the job done on time. It was just unbelievable how good the Lord was.
But the night before I was to hand over the dormitories to those who lived there, I could not sleep. Not because I was excited or anxious, no, but because a deep, deep lie came back to haunt me.
Once again, like a broken record, my mind kept telling me that I had failed—like I had done all my life. All I could do that night was cry in my pillow so that my room-mates could not hear me. For if they did, I would feel like a failure as a man as well.
There were so many little details that were left undone: poor paint job marks on the walls and floors, imperfections in the dry walling, etc. These were things that only I could see, but that did not matter. I had once again failed and would continue to fail.
When morning came, I brought my abject feeling of failure to prayer and gave it to the Lord. Then I opened my heart to my spiritual director and got a blessing—well, more than a blessing.
He saw what I was experiencing for what it was and prayed over me to banish the “Teller of Lies.”
This helped some. Though I was close to tears all day, I was able to hear people’s expressions of praise and gratitude for the work accomplished.
Over the next months, I was able to work through this lie, receiving the mercy of the Lord.
Then once I was free of this lie, through the mercy of God, I was able to have mercy on myself. I did not have to prove that I was not a failure any more. So if I failed, it was OK. And if it was OK for me to fail, it was OK for others to fail as well. So, in the end, I could let others fail.
I no longer needed to be so driven and so hard on myself and others.
This was one more step along the road to freedom.
*See Peter’s article “My Unforgiveable Sin,” in the February 2016 Restoration.