Blessed and Broken: Recycling Our Lives

Brother David Henley, Glenmary vocation director

October 2013

"Recycle today for a better tomorrow."—Popular slogan

I recently read a study about consumer recycling behavior, and it immediately occurred to me that it's a perfect analogy for the self-perception and behavior of many men I know who are trying to discern God's will in their lives. The authors, Remi Trudel and Jennifer Argo, tried to analyze "conditions under which consumers dispose of recyclable products in the garbage." They found that "when a product is sufficiently distorted or changed in size or form, consumers perceive it as less useful." And "when they perceive it as less useful, they're more likely to throw it in the garbage, as opposed to recycling it."

So the individual who would normally recycle an aluminum can is likely NOT TO RECYCLE IT if it is dirty, dented or crushed. The authors also found that while someone is likely to recycle a whole sheet of paper if it is intact, he or she will perceive the same amount of paper as trash if it has been torn or crumpled. Even though it is the same material, if it does not look like it can be reused, the person will toss it in the wastebasket and not in the recycle bin.

The United States is a consumer society. This fact really hits home when I see a statistic such as the following: two billion tons of trash are thrown away each year, with the United States throwing away more trash than any other country. The question I wonder about is, how does this "throw-away mentality" so prevalent in our society today influence our perception of ourselves and our ability to become better?

Very often I talk with men who feel called to something—but who don't think they are "good enough" to become priests or brothers. They talk about their past mistakes and think that, because of the sins they have committed, they cannot pursue their calls to religious life.

They may think they are called to something greater, but when they see all the dents and cracks in themselves, they don't think they are worthy to be recycled as priests or brothers. They ask, "Who me?" They think, "I am sure God doesn't want me—God is looking for someone better." They lose faith, they doubt, they give up.

We are all blessed and broken. But because of that wonderful gift of redemption on the cross, we all can be recycled.

Is God calling you? Are you ready to accept that redemption and recycle your life? Pope Francis recently tweeted, "God's forgiveness is stronger than any sin." If that is the case, we can all start anew and be reformed and recycled into something greater. Why not as a Glenmary missioner?

Please get in touch with us if would like more information about Glenmary—or if would like to speak with someone about following your vocation call or dealing with the doubts you may be experiencing. You can call 513-881-7494, contact us via our Web site, send an e-mail, or get in touch through Facebook.

You can also read previous columns by Brother David on the Glenmary Web site.