informal_homeHave you ever asked someone for what you wanted and didn’t get it?   I have, on multiple occasions and for various ideas, and have gotten nowhere.  I usually made excuses such as “so-and-so is better connected politically”, or “my request was badly timed.”

One of the traits of being highly sensitive is never thinking I’m enough.  We tend to put our ambitions and desires on the shelf in the face of opposition.  We often think we must bend ourselves to conform to what those in power want and that it is somehow illegitimate, selfish or egotistical to ask for what I want.

Years ago I knew an influential Cardinal, then Archbishop in Rome, Luigi Poggi.  He had been in the Vatican diplomatic corps for years.  It was during this tenure that he came to know the future Polish pope.  Eventually Poggi was assigned as nuncio to Italy and then as Cardinal Vatican Librarian and Archivist.  My uncle, who lived in Italy at the time, introduced him to me when I was ordained.

After visiting Poggi in Rome one summer early in my priesthood, I was eager to do something more in the church and thought it would be interesting to work for a time in the Vatican state department.  Since Poggi was very high ranking there I thought he’d help me.  He encouraged me to speak with my bishop about my desire.

I arranged a meeting with Cardinal Law, who seemed annoyed that I was taking up his time.  It took him all of three seconds to dismiss my idea without discussion and send me home.  When I told Archbishop Poggi of the meeting he just let the issue die, even though he had the authority to intervene on my behalf.

My inner saboteurs told me I was foolish to have ambitions.  They continued to discourage me whenever I had a new idea of how I might use my talents in the wider church.  They told me I was not politically connected to the right people and that I was not liked or appreciated.  Though there was truth in all of that, the real issue was that I was part of an institution (the diocesan priesthood in Boston) that was described by many as “the graveyard of talent.” 

Eventually I learned that asking for what I wanted was often a dead end to legitimate desires.  I changed my perspective to one of taking rather than asking.  I began to trust in my own intelligence and good will.  I knew I did not intend to hurt anyone, but simply to follow the path that would lead to the fulfillment of my life purpose.

Asking permission had placed me in a subservient and undignified position.  It was degrading to my spirit.  This concept of “obedience” is still used to control people in the church.  I solved my dilemma by taking charge of my life.  I left ministry to follow a new calling as a life coach.  What is it that you need to do to take what you legitimately want and deserve?    

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