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Straggling Towards Sainthood

Path to Heaven - artist Susan Kayler
Jesus told us that the path to Heaven was narrow. I'm sure He meant to add that it's also rocky, dizzying, and disturbingly lonely at times. It reminds me of all my childhood vacations spent lost because Mom couldn't read maps and Dad couldn't follow directions.

Earlier this week, I was so sad. I was talking myself out of bed in the mornings. I couldn't come up with any good reasons to get going in the morning. No job, no money, nobody to care for: couldn't I just spend one day in bed? Deep down, I know that "just one day in bed" would become a habit, and not a good one.

We all get knocked off our feet by life. A spouse dies. A child moves away. We get sick. A friend has cancer.

"That's not fair! This is not what I bargained for!"

It's easy to look at the lives of others and imagine they "have it easy." Perhaps it's a friend or family member who has loads of money, and a life punctuated by fabulous travel and a gorgeous home. Maybe it's the marriage of a couple we know; they always seem to be in sync with one another. And it's all too easy to begin thinking that God is somehow making our life more difficult - on purpose. Like He's picking on us.

I admit, I began this week rather upset with God. My now 4-month long job search has sucked the life right out of me. I doubt myself. I keep thinking I don't deserve a good job. Why even bother?

I hurt all the time. Somewhere, on my body, there is always a point of pain. I still sleep on the floor sometimes, as it is the only way to relieve pain and find a comfortable manner in order to sleep.

Oh: and sleep! Yeah, I don't do much of that. 4 hours here, an hour or so there.

I just decided to blame God. It's much easier than examining my own conscience. It can't possibly be MY fault, right? And even when I know that no one person or thing is to blame, I want to have a reason for it. Why not God?

Then, things began to fall into place this week. A job offer. A "thanks be to God" conclusion to a long and drawn out battle in our lives. Comfort from friends. Little by little, light begins to seep through the cracks.

It seems hypocritical: hey, God is answering my prayers the way I want! Let's get all happy now! Thanks, God, for seeing things the way I want - you da man!!

When I received some news this week that a long-fought battle regarding one of my kids seemed to be close to a resolution, I drove to the nearest church and hit my knees in front of the tabernacle.

God is good, all the time. I am not. I am likely to crawl over to the side of the pathway to Heaven and complain about how hot it is, and how tired I am. I scrabble along, half the time clutching my rosary in prayer and  half the time clutching it in frustration as I shake my fist at God.

One of the things that we must learn on our journey to Heaven is that "fair" has nothing to do with anything. I'm not sure "fair" is even part of God's vocabulary. "Love" certainly is, and "hope" and "faith" but not "fair." Being thankful to God is not about giving thanks when things are going our way. God is not keeping some eternal scorecard that He can balance as it becomes necessary. Nope, that scorecard exists only in our heads, and it is always misleading.

Once again, I'm down on my knees. Once again, I'm dragging myself along the path to holiness. Once again, I'm begging for a mercy I do not deserve. Once again, God looks at me with love.

When I see despair, God shows me glory. When I seek ease, God keeps me off-kilter. As I feel pain, God binds up my wounds. I cry out in fear, and God covers me in peace.

As I straggle towards sainthood, God crawls beside me, in companionship and empathy and charity. His love never fails, even though I do.

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