Lessons learned from mistakes made

By The Beacon | September 2, 2015 6:17pm
Fr. Jim Gallagher, Director of Campus Ministry

By Fr. Jim Gallagher , Director of Campus Ministry |

I have made a decent number of mistakes along the way in my life. There are many things that I could have done differently or would do differently if I had the chance to do them again.

The benefit is that in making mistakes, I learned a good number of valuable lessons, some of which I would not have learned without the mistakes. So, there are no big regrets. Indeed, I carry a good bit of gratitude that I was bold enough (or dumb enough) to make the mistakes that I did. They are what has helped form the man that I am today.

I bring this up because as I think about this new academic year opening up, I find myself thinking about my own journey through the undergraduate experience. One of the things that I was particularly poor at was asking questions. There I was, on a campus full of professors and staff who were there because they enjoy wrestling with questions and sharing the wisdom they gained along the way. And there I was, holding back from letting fly the questions rattling around in my mind.

One of the areas that I was particularly curious about was the life of faith. I grew up in a family where going to church on Sunday was what we did. My parents were good witnesses of living a life of faith and virtue. I had learned many of the do’s and don’t’s. Yet what I did not have was the understanding of the deeper reasons for it all.

I had all sorts of questions about who God is. Why do we need many of the practices that we have in organized religion? Why did we have to gather together in prayer - why couldn’t we just pray on our own time? Why were the existing practices and habits there, as opposed to other practices and habits?

These questions were rumbling around in my mind, and there they stayed. It was a Catholic university, with priests and religious and world class theologians. And the questions just stayed right there in my head. I was able to work out a few things on my own, but definitely not what I would have been able to work out if I had brought the questions into the light and before the people around me.

In time, I did start asking the questions. The insights that I longed and hoped for came in time. The mistake of the time was not irreparable, yet it was an opportunity lost.

All this is to say: don’t make the same mistake. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity before you. Be bold - ask the questions on your mind.