Both Now and Not Yet
Have you ever tried starting a diet? Or a workout regimen? Or a new hobby or skill? If you’re like me, you might have given up or thrown out your expectations at the first sign of failure. Eating a piece of cake ruined the diet for the day, so I might as well live it up! I can’t seem to play that one chord right, so I’ll probably never learn the guitar. These phrases are just a couple of the many that I’ve uttered as I dejectedly announce to myself that things aren’t going according to my plan. Why is that? Why should I let a small bit of failure speak to the entire process I’m working on? Skills, routines, and lifestyles take time to become perfected. And yet, I get frustrated when they aren’t perfect on the first go of it, or I take my failure as an indication of what is to come. What about in our spiritual lives?
How many times, when dealing with habitual sin, do I throw in the towel when I’ve stumbled again? I remember countless times recognizing that I’ve once again given into my temptations and proceeding to “live it up” and keep sinning before my next confession. I’ve already made this mistake, why don’t I make some more until it’s “erased” in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? This mentality fatally led me to constant and continual despair. A cycle of confession, fall, “living it up,” and then back to confession.
I would take the sacrament for granted, using it as my way of feeling better about myself in the midst of my desire to keep sinning. What has been slowly pointed out to me through the witness of others and in praying with Scripture, is that my habits are preparing me for the rest of my life, both here on Earth and beyond. Am I doing something about it?
I think too often I can neglect how damaging sin is to my soul. That every time I choose against God, I am distancing myself further from Him, and from what my heart truly desires. It’s easy for me to think about Heaven and the Kingdom of God as distant, far off, something that I’ll take care of when I’m old and have more time to. But when Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God, he says that it is “at hand.” He compares it to a Mustard Seed being planted and growing, and to leaven growing and multiplying the bread. The Kingdom of God isn’t something that begins at the end of time, it’s happening now.
A few months ago, we as a staff at school prayed through the Our Father over the course of a few weeks. In studying and reflecting on the line: “thy kingdom come,” the phrase “now and not yet” was used to unpack what that petition really is saying. This caught my attention. Like the rising of the morning sun, just breaking through and beginning to illuminate the world around us, so too the Kingdom of God is present to us now, but it is also beckoning forth, just beyond the horizon. When I give up on my goals at the slightest indication of failure, I’m neglecting who I am and who I am becoming. When I allow myself to become a slave to sin, and to willingly continue to sin, I’m forgetting that I have a place reserved for me in Heaven, the question remaining: do I want to keep it?
Don’t despair. We as human beings are imperfect. And it doesn’t take a perfect human being to become a saint - just look at any of them! However, let us take strides to continue to be determined. To not fall into the trap that I can fix my bad habits later or the lie that we will never change. With the Grace of God and with the help of virtuous friends who desire our sainthood as much as we desire theirs, we can continue to live into our true identity as Beloved Sons of God the Father.