"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
. . .
Behold, you desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart . . .
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me."
Lord, thank you for everything. Thank you for this journey which has humbled me and made me realize my need for you, a Savior. Have mercy on me as I integrate your truth into my being. Teach me wisdom and give me a clean heart, O God. Cleanse me from my past sins and put a new and right spirit within me. Amen.
We are each in a different place on our journey in life, on our journey to God. If we truly want to have a grateful heart, part of that includes thanksgiving for our individual journey.
Sometimes I hear people say, "Well, of course St. Paul was awesome and converted. God struck him off his horse in a bolt of lightning and spoke directly to him. He told him exactly what to do. If that happened to me, life would be a lot easier!" Or sometimes, "I wish I could have been in St. Joseph's shoes - he lived with God and a woman born without sin. There probably wasn't a whole lot of drama."
Or my favorite, "If I was alive when Jesus was, it would be a lot easier to believe in him." But the Lord tells us "blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (John 20:29).
The problem with this thinking is that we undermine God's love for us. He created each one of us individually! At the beginning of time, he intentionally chose to create St. Paul as a separate soul from you. "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5). It is not a mistake that you are alive right now, in your exact stage in life. We are each called to be saints, and that will look different for every person. Our journeys are meant to be different, and we must strive to cultivate gratitude for being exactly where we're at.
I'm not advocating contentment or complacency. We should always try to move forward and be better people by God's grace than we were when we woke up this morning. But I am saying that a different family, teacher, house, job, college, sibling, set of parents, priest, church, talent, or spouse would not have made your life easier. It would not have ensured that you grew closer to God than where you are right now. Your journey does not define you as a person, but it is part of what makes you unique. It's part of your story to share with the world, and God makes all things new, even the stoniest of hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).
Continuous conversion - metanoia - is a constant turning back to God. The psalmist gives a beautiful example of this through humility and acceptance of his situation: who he's been, who he is, and who he wants to be.
Without comparing ourselves to others, let us strive to be grateful for the journey God has taken us on thus far. Let us praise Him for the good work He has done, and rejoice with expectant faith in the good we know He has yet to accomplish. As we accept His perfect Love for us, let us claim the truth that "perfect love casts out all fear," and renounce any fear and shame we're holding onto regarding our journey with the Lord.
Thank you, Jesus. For everything.