Seriously though, when speaking of growth on the spiritual, "Gaudium et Spes #22" level, it is amazing how much God thinks we're capable of. It is also astounding how often He is right, when we let Him take over. He's been teaching me so much these last few months--so much about myself, life, and my God. I was sharing some of the insights I've gained with a friend last night, and thought I'd share them with you as well. I know some of the most helpful bits of advice I've read or other people have given me were things they learned and were brave enough to pass on, so here's another peek under the basket . . .
"Kelly, when you go back to school, you can't just run every so often, do a couple push-ups and stomach crunchers and expect to stay in shape like you have over break. You have to be consistent and always do the extra 5 reps. that you don't think you can do if you really want to improve." My sister's encouragement transfers so well to the spiritual life too. We'll be able to say we "exercise" if we do the above, but we can't really call ourselves a true "athlete" and no one will think we're an "Olympian" if we don't keep pushing until it hurts. Similarly, I'll be able to "do the Christian thing" if I go to Church and pray here and there. But, I won't really be a good "Christian" or "Catholic" and I certainly won't become a "Saint" unless I'm willing to go the extra mile. Good challenge!
When you get to the pearly gates and God asks you, "Have you read my book?," what are you going to say? "Kinda, you know, on Sundays and stuff." [excerpt from a Matthew Kelly talk] I'm almost ready to say I have finished it. A teacher challenged me to read a chapter a night in high school and I have ever since. I'll be done with the whole thing sometime this Spring. I would recommend it to anyone--it's the most beautiful love letter ever written. It has given me so much encouragement and solace in the rough points of my life. If you can't get past Genesis, don't read it in order, the Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, Wisdom, the Maccabees, etc. all rock.
"In Humility is found perfect freedom." [A holy card in my Bible] So hard but so true. When we look at ourselves compared to what others think of us, what we think we should be, or what we think we are, etc. we place ourselves in a box. "I'm like this." "I'm not like that." "She thinks I'm like this." "I'm bad at doing that." Those all confine you to a small cage. "God knows me as I am, loves me as I am, and He has a plan for who I can become and am becoming that is beyond my wildest imagination." That phrase dissolves all boundaries, limits, and debilitating inhibitions. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us in all our perfections and imperfections. Christianity is wanting to do something about it and asking Him how. It's not the easy path, but I hear the view from the top is gorgeous.
Lastly, know that you have the potential to change. So many people I run into have never had someone tell them that they have the ability to rise above the things that depress them or frighten them. God will always give the grace sufficient as long as you're trying to be honest with yourself and you're going out and doing what is necessary to try and become the best version of yourself. I look around at my friends and see the potential for so much good. They are already awesome people, and they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to become even more saintly and to do so much more to further God's Kingdom on earth.
If you made it through my musings, congrats. your level of patience has probably already scored you a spot in Purgatory. Feel free to contribute thoughts of your own on things God has taught you.