Taking Small Steps Towards Sanctity
In fact, it’s one of those things I don’t consider often anymore. I made up my mind long ago, after a long and arduous journey, to put all my chips in the corner of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
There’s no question in my mind when I recite the Creed that every single line is true. I believe it all. That’s not the problem.
The problem is conforming my actions to those beliefs.
A friend of mine recently criticized one of my postings on Facebook. It was pretty harsh, and motives were read into my post that simply weren’t there. So what’s the Christian response? To forgive. I believe this is true, and recognize that God asks us to be generous in our forgiveness – so He will reciprocate. Strong incentive, that.
But I was still stewing about it a couple weeks later. I felt betrayed, and wrongly accused. Oh, there’s no question that I was being overly sensitive, thin-skinned and self-pitying. I’m working on all those things too. But I was having serious trouble forgiving from the heart.
In the end, it took several weeks for my emotions to catch up with my reason. Through praying for my friend, recalling some of her challenging circumstances, and trying to ascribe positive motives to her behavior, the pain gradually receded. I’m not sure when forgiveness was actually achieved from a theological standpoint. I’ll leave that one up to God.
But one thing stood out in the process. Small, gradual steps towards a goal are useful as a way to “cooperate” with God’s grace. In this case, these steps consisted primarily of prayer for my friend. Over the course of time (because grace isn’t like the instant gratification of a vending machine) my heart was softened.
So here’s the challenge: next time we’re facing some sort of hardship, crisis, or challenge, whether large or small, let’s take small steps in faith towards God. Just like a small child taking those first tentative steps towards a parent with open arms, let’s take that first step – even at the risk of falling on our behind.
Even when our heads and our hearts are sparring, trusting God has no downside as we remember that spiritual realities transcend what we’re able to perceive with our senses. Persevering in small steps eventually translates into progress, and God has an amazing way of blessing our poor efforts. Keep the faith!