Many decades ago, I was going through some difficult times, and no matter what I did, I felt empty and aimless. I was angry and selfish and felt isolated and lonely, yet I could not identify how the latter was a consequence of the former. I was indeed isolated and lonely among many people because I lived mainly in my own head, and because of that, I could not empathize and connect with others correctly. I could not feel love as it was meant to.
I always had the gift of disposition toward helping others, but it was, for me, an extension of my own thoughts and needs, as opposed to a conscious show of love and compassion. I did not understand how much my innate love for God and people had been corrupted by anger and selfishness until I found, during self-examination, that I did not care for anything other than myself. And at the time, even this caring for self was up for debate. Where had my love gone? Where was my gratitude? Why didn’t I care? To live unable to feel love for others is a sad and unfulfilling life. Like muscles that have not been used in a long time, my love and appreciation had atrophied over the years, and I had not even noticed until I had a real need for them. I needed to remember what I already knew but had forgotten.
There and then, I made my decision. I prayed to God for the first time in a while and promised to learn again to be loving, kind, grateful, and faithful. I was convicted to become a better person, but I told Him unequivocally that I would need His guidance, for I did not know the way...
I will not lie and say that this miraculously happened overnight or that my life changed immediately. No, too much self-damage had been done over too long a time, and this was no “Road to Damascus” miracle like it was for Saint Paul. Sadly, those miraculous shortcuts were not made available to me.
The road to faith and kindness is as full of frustration and failure as it is full of fulfillment and success, and for us believers, it has to be transited, one day at a time. We must remember that the road is difficult but not impossible. The Father will provide what is needed, and the Holy Spirit is within us, so let us lean on the One who loves us.
To become the people of God that Christ calls us to be means we are sent to walk on the road of life daily. We need to experience the many little wins and losses, learn from every interaction, and share all of those with Christ. Every success and every failure is a pleasing offering to our Lord.
Eventually, with every affirmation of our goal, with every decision we make to be faithful and kind, our hearts are reforged, our faith enkindled, and our love mended. Patience, Kindness, Goodness, and Joy come forth as fruit of the Spirit and take hold of us. I am no saint; that is clear to me, but I want to grow to be one, and every affirmation of faith, love, and kindness gets us a little closer. It sometimes costs us some to be loving and kind, but Jesus also paid a price to love and save us. Would it not be fair then to, in gratitude, do as He did for us?
I pray daily that my life may emulate Christ’s, even if only a little bit. I pray that I may grow in kindness, love, charity, hope, and faith and go out into the world to do God’s will. After my day is over and I go to bed at night, I often think about my day, the many wins and losses, and the opportunities I had to grow closer to the goal of faithfulness, kindness, and goodness. I offer a prayer of thanks to God for the opportunities given and think of what I did with those opportunities. There is growth to be had that can help us advance on the goal of Heaven.
We look back at our actions, but only to see what we can do better and whether there is any insight to be had. We must remember to be kind and gentle to ourselves. How can we grow to be gentle and kind to others if we do not afford ourselves the same? We are all a work in progress on our journey home.
The road to faithfulness and kindness is long and arduous, but it starts like any journey… with the first conscious step. Let us consciously invite Christ to walk with us. May we all be blessed with a fruitful road to Heaven.
Let us pray: Lord, you know our lives, thoughts, and feelings. Please, let us see You as You walk with us in friendship toward the goal of eternal life with You. May we grow daily to be more faithful, kind, loving, patient, and joyful so that our brothers can see You in the way we live our lives. Amen.