I’m one of those really odd people that don’t love to eat ice cream. Now, I don’t hate it and every once in a while I really do want some (thank you Texas heat!), but in general, my attitude towards it is kinda “eh.” My husband however (and most people I know) love it. I don’t know why people like it so much. Maybe it’s the sweetness of it that satisfies the sweet tooth many have. Or the fact that it’s cold, which is nice in this Texas heat. Maybe it’s because it comes in many different flavors, with an endless list of topping options (especially if you go to local Austin favorite Amy’s Ice Cream).
And it was when I was driving by an Amy’s Ice Cream in Austin the silence of my car (because I often drive in silence to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me) that it hit me: The similarities between ice cream and our faith.
Ice cream. There are so the many variety of flavors. So many variations of sweetness. There are multitudes of the options of ice cream brands and shops. There are countless options of toppings, from sprinkles to nuts to strawberries to chocolate fudge and whip cream and lots of stuff in between.
Faith. There are so many varieties of prayer styles and Masses. So many variations of music and languages. There are multitudes of Catholic Churches in one area (the Diocese of Austin alone has over 130 parishes and Catholic student centers). There are countless options of ministries to get involved in, from youth ministry to social justice to Bible studies to gardening to Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters and lots of stuff in between.
And yet, like ice cream, if the faith isn’t quite as sweet as we want it to be at that moment (maybe because we’re going through some hardship or don’t like one of the Churches teachings) or we can’t find a flavor we like (maybe we’re not being fed spiritually at the Catholic Church we attend), we decide we don’t care for it that much and might to step away from the faith and ignore its presence.
Sure, like ice cream, we always know it’s an option, but it’s not something that’s appealing to us. And yet, it’s in those times of a lack of sweetness or not finding a flavor we like that we can actually have the most grow in our faith and relationship with God.
We need to work through those times of difficulty. We need to keep testing different Catholic flavors (parishes, ministries, etc) and not just give up on the Catholic faith entirely. We need to seek a way to understand why the Church has a particular teaching and find a way to understand and accept it in our lives. All too often someone will seek a different Christian faith, or stop going to any church at all, because of one moment, one person, one hardship, one lack of sweetness or flavor in the Catholic faith. Or just because sometimes it’s just easier than spending the time trying to find the right Catholic sweetness and flavor.
But if you’re like most people you wouldn’t give up on ice cream and stop eating it all just because you didn’t like one brand’s flavor of strawberry or one specific topping, would you?