When we think about transformed lives, we often think of the dramatic end result. Personal joy! Financial stability! Professional success!
But as we know, most of life is a series of incremental changes. We live moment to moment, day to day, and week to week refining our physical, psychological, and spiritual foundations. We are often one thought, one prayer, one conversation, one comment, one gesture, one service, and one word away from developing or overcoming something significant in our lives.
I was reminded of this just the other day when Stan, a formerly homeless addict, stopped by the OIM office for one of our weekly chats. We both sat happily, sipping on cups of tea, chatting about an array of subjects, including the hot, muggy weather, his loveable cat, the outdoor work he enjoys, his physical and mental health challenges, and more. He was in good spirits overall and I was glad to see it.
During the course of our conversation, however, I realized that there was something more. “I’ve decided to seek spiritual counseling,” he said. Stan explained that he had arranged to meet weekly with his pastor in order to reconnect with the God. “It has helped to be around spiritual people,” he said, referring to OIM staff and volunteers. “It’s made me realize just how much I missed God.” And it was then that it hit me. In the five years that Stan had been receiving our services, he had gone from addiction to clean living, from homelessness to housing, from unemployment to employment, and from isolation to communion with God. Until that moment, I had not realized how far he had come.
But then again, that is often how positive change works – slowly, imperceptibly, but always with an eye on bringing healing and restoration. Reflecting on this today, I am reminded of the words of the late Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, who wrote this poem of profoundly simple, yet powerful insight:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God […]
Don’t try to force [life] on,
as though you could be today
what time (that is to say, grace and
circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.