When we moved into our new house last summer, my husband and I were dissatisfied with the bold paint color in the kitchen and family room. We lived with it for a year, until my husband suggested last week that we finally pick a new color and soften the room.
The new choice in color ended up being exactly what we had envisioned, but it’s funny how the newness of the paint showed deficiencies in the rest of the room. All of sudden, I was hesitant to re-hang the window curtains, which looked faded and yellowed. The fireplace paint looked dull, and the carpet a tad bit worn. I started to notice the accumulation of dirt in the sliding glass door tracks, and my kitchen towels did not really match the new tones of the walls.
I tried to look at the situation through the eyes of faith, and was reminded of how tempted I am to view my spiritual life as making progress. Not too long ago, because I started to become aware of my need for God, I was a daily communicant, facilitator of a small faith-sharing group, encouraged in my role as primary educator of the faith to my children, and regular caller to my spiritual director. I was reading spiritual books and hungering for frequent Confession. I look at my life today, and the first thing that comes to mind is that I am falling apart! I unfairly blame my active two year old for me not going to daily Mass, and my meditative prayer life is almost non-existent. I am constantly tempted to rely on my own strength, and I succumb to anxiety, stress and haste almost all day long.
It is very easy to succumb to the illusion that the successive stages of our journey to sanctity are like the progression from one grade level to another. When a child is promoted to the next grade level, he knows that a certain stage of education is now behind him, even if he critically evaluates his achievements. He will never have to repeat the curriculum of the previous level because there will be a new program in the next grade….
(S.C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005], 7)
I look back at that woman from not too long ago, and wonder what happened. But, I find hope as I read:
With successive revelations of the interior of your soul, you will see that the process of graduating from one grade level to another cannot be applied to the idea of progressing toward perfection within your interior life…..By seeing your interior in a clearer light, you will gradually come to discover who you really are….Perhaps you will have the impression that you are becoming worse and worse and regressing in your interior life….But do not succumb to doubt or despair – nothing bad is happening. It is only the Light that is knocking, the Light to whom you opened the borders of your kingdom….(Ibid, 12, 13)
Exposing the interior….is an unceasing process in spiritual life…This Light is showing you the sick parts of your soul in order to heal them. (Ibid, 19).