Well, we’re right smack in the middle of Lent.
I’ve fasted, I’ve given up some things I really enjoy, and I’ve even prayed a tiny bit more than usual. Am I holy yet?
But I still have some time to go! Will I at least be super holy by the time Easter Sunday rolls around?
Thankfully, I think I may have figured out the reason why the “muscle your way to holiness” plan hasn’t been working out for me. Year in and year out, I see Lent as my grand opportunity to conquer myself, to take serious steps toward holiness, and to check off the box once I’ve finally become the person God wants me to be.
[tweet "Figuring out why the 'muscle your way to holiness' plan doesn't work. By @theghissilent"]
And yet every year I fail.
The reason seems to be connected to my hangup that holiness is something I can accomplish. In reality, though, becoming the person God wants me to be is not just like an errand I can check off my list by attending Mass, saying some extra prayers, and avoiding coffee for 40 days.
Instead, holiness is about abandoning oneself to God. It’s not a task to be crossed off, but a relationship to engage in.
And that, my friends, is exactly why holiness is so darn hard.
If it was as simple as most of our other goals, we all would have done it already. But because holiness is about being willing to give ourselves and everything in our life over to God, to allow him to dispense of those things as He wills rather than as we will, precisely because of all of this, achieving holiness is tough.
While it’s easy to say that we want to abandon ourselves to God, the reality of what that actually means is a much scarier proposition. It means handing God ourselves, all our merits, all that is good before him. Handing Him all of family. our children; absolutely everything. It means being willing to trust that He knows what's best even when it makes absolutely no sense to us down here on earth. It means saying yes to all the good, all the bad, and continuing to push forward.
Am I actually ready to take that step? Am I ready to give myself completely to God without reservation?
No, in all honesty, I'm not.
But that's precisely what Lent is all about: Making sacrifices for Him, working harder to hand things over to Him one by one, and taking tiny steps closer to that which I wish I could just check off my list.
Holiness isn't something we can accomplish, it's much too profound for that, but with His help it can be the destination where we finally arrive, if only we give it all to Him.
Copyright 2017 Tommy Tighe
About the Author
Tommy is a Catholic husband, father of four boys, and the author of The Catholic Hipster Handbook (available now!).