(God is faithful)
The myth of the spiritual life is that we will one day reach perfection. If this is not believed consciously, then it is often operating on an unconscious level. For after all did not Jesus say: “Be you perfect as your Father is perfect”? So willpower (the will-to-power), can become the central operative in this seeking of becoming better and then moving on to faultlessness. Control, watchfulness, becomes the catch word, and well they should, but in the end there can be only disappointment for many and perhaps all. For the desire to become better will invite struggle; bringing to light our actual lack of freedom which we perhaps failed to see in the past, but will soon become apparent from the very beginning of ones movement to deeper conversion.
As long as there is ignorance of ones state, then struggle is often missing. At least on a moral level that implies responsibility for ones actions and the affect it has on others. Which leads to not having the luxury of placing blame and exonerating oneself when challenged by those around us; in others words we learn to listen and to put aside our resistance. Something which can take years to actually learn and put into practice, without having some kind of ego shattering response; normally called a hissy fit. We find out that we are truly naked and discover it difficult to dress ourselves in the garments of virtue. For humility after all is not about being simply submissive, but about being in touch with the truth about ourselves and not being afraid to admit it when it is brought to our attention. This is not weakness but a specific type of courage that is often misunderstood and maligned.
Love of God and seeking to become more compassionate towards others, does not mean that sin is absent, and even some pretty heavy ones that could have roots so deep that they may take a lifetime to release. They are a true thorn in the side and can cause some deep inner confrontation with both self hatred and despair. These are necessary components to the spiritual life and each pilgrim will meet this differently. It is in this struggle that growth comes, this paradox of seeking to become more loving and God centered and at the same time dealing with inner demons that for many give no rest. Humility is the fruit of this purgatorial state, since the mirror of self knowledge is constantly being placed in front of us and the suffering will only decrease when it is embraced without rancor.
I suppose after years of being on the path…….. Slowly for some, more rapidly for others, that through the ups and downs, the darkness and the light, the moving back and forth on the course, there is one constant and that is the faithfulness of God. The insight comes that it is grace that always brings us back; heals us and allows the light to once more to become apparent. From this trust slowly comes to the fore. Though it has to be consciously brought to mind, since interior habits have a life of their own and will continue to seek to torment and hinder. So our suffering and failings only help to bring us deeper into trust and the constant “yes” of God. It is we who at times dance away, twirl back, and then tap dance off again. It is the love of God that is the rock that always stays in place. Our true foundation, that allows us too slowly overcome self hatred and contempt, to snail forward to the point when we can actually love our neighbor as ourselves. For how can we love ourselves unless we have at least some self knowledge? Love of self without that, is merely self conceit and leads to contempt for ‘our weaker brothers’; when in fact they are most often closer to the truth than the shallowly virtuous. Suffering brings depth because it throws us on ourselves and takes away our complacency. Well it is true for me, for there are perhaps those, the many, who don’t have to learn that way and if that is true I am very happy that they have such a smooth path. Mine however is rocky, full of falls and very slow in the climbing. Yet if I don’t fall how can I rise? If I don’t know my wounds, how can I ask for healing? If I am unaware of self destructive behaviors, how can I ask for forgiveness? No, sad to say, for I wish it were otherwise, suffering seems to be a necessary part of our spiritual evolution, or again mine.
Also the doubt and the unanswered questions force us to think deeper and to make conscious choices about how and what we believe. Not to do so can lead to become rigid and fearful in how responses are made when challenged by others. Again each is unique in how this is done. All paths are equal, just as long as we strive to seek truth and live it, no matter how often we fail. It is the getting up that is the trick and also the hidden grace offered; for God is always “yes”.