When you look at the saints, how do you feel? Hopefully inspired, but if you’re like many of us, you’re somewhat discouraged. Perhaps you think, “I’m a horrible person. I could never become that holy.”
Sometimes these feelings come from expecting too much of ourselves or trying to rush sanctity.
In a strict theological sense, no one can ever do enough for God. But He is a patient and loving father to His children. And He never asks us to do anything that is beyond our strength.
If you feel like you’re falling short of becoming the man or woman you want to be, try these three tips.
1. Imitate the virtue, not the person.
It’s easy to want to be like someone else, but it’s much better to be yourself. You’ll always fall short of that desire because you’re not them. Instead, identify a virtue they embody and look to them as a concrete example of how to live out that virtue.
For example, let’s say you admire Pope St. John Paul II. Don’t think, “I want to become just like JPII.” Pick a virtue he had, such as courage. Observe how he exercised this in his day-to-day life and try your best to follow suit.
2. Look at the progress you’ve made.
If you’re going to compare yourself with anybody, do it with yourself. There probably are many areas in your life where you’ve grown.
Recognize that and thank God for helping you arrive where you are. It’s not pride to acknowledge this growth and it will give you the courage to continue fighting your battles.
3. Focus on what you can do, not what you wish you could do.
It takes time to grow in spiritual life. Tackling too much at one time can make you feel overwhelmed and cause you to give up. Instead, think of things you can manage in small bites, right here, right now.
In the Gospels, the Apostles observe Jesus going to the mountaintop to pray all night to the Father. When he returns, they ask him to teach them to pray. Does he teach them an eight-hour intense meditation? No. He gives them the “Our Father,” an easy prayer that takes less than a minute to say.
You won’t become a saint overnight, so be patient with yourself. You will progress step by step. If you can’t pray an entire rosary, just do a decade a day for a while and work yourself up to the whole thing.
Through it all, remember that God is with you, holding the grace you need each day in His hands, waiting for you to ask Him for it. Stay close to Him and you will get where you need to be.