St. Josemarie Escriva offers us the following quote to highlight the approach we should take when faced with our own shortcomings and struggles:
It's not all about us. Taking up any sort of challenge, even Catholic ones - can result in excessive introspection and self-centeredness. Instead of helping us to grow, the challenge quickly slides into a running tally of our own successes (yay me!!!!) and failures (boo me...) .That entirely misses the point. By offering up our struggles (and our victories) for the intentions of others, we are able to focus our attention on the goal of helping others - a win-win situation, whether we have succeeded or failed.
There is growth in the struggle. This is one of my Spiritual Director's favorite sayings and I cringe everytime I hear it. I have learned, painfully and over an extended period of time, that he is quite correct. If we never struggled in anything, we would likely not grow either. People who are raised with the proverbial "silver spoon" in their mouth are notoriously unhappy. Nothing builds us up as much as a struggle which has been overcome! As Catholics we have a unique opportunity to turn our struggles into immediate victories by offering them in prayer to the Lord for others. In this way, our struggles are never wasted, but instead, united to the Lord's sufferings, they themselves take on a supernatural value.
Quitting is not an option. When we adopt the practice of "offering up" our struggles for the intentions and salvation of others, it becomes very apparent that quitting is not an option. By viewing struggles and even outright failure as opportunities for prayer, we come to understand that every second of our life is valuable. In a world that dismisses anything less than perfection, we as Catholics have been given the great gift of turning imperfections into powerful instruments of the Lord's mercy and grace. Does this mean that we don't try to overcome our struggles and failures? Of course not. We should work hard and pray hard to rid ourselves of our failures. In the meantime, we can offer them up for our family, friends, loved ones, and the poor souls who are lost and in need of salvation. When we experience the sweet taste of victory over them, we can likewise offer that in prayer as well!
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