I mess up a lot. Sometimes I get angry and yell at my best friends. Sometimes I make people cry.
As you can tell I need a lot of conversion. But, if you can believe it, I’ve grown a lot. Before my year as a missionary with Christ in the City, I was an only child. Now I have 19 siblings. I had my own big room, went on family vacations with just my parents, planned my own schedule and lived mostly for myself. I didn’t take many risks. And I didn’t fail very much.
Now I fail a lot.
But I also take risks. I share a room with four other people in what used to be an old school. I’m not in control of my schedule. I spend myself for my homeless friends who I reach out to. I spend myself for my friends trying (and failing) to invest in them and love each of them well.
Pope Benedict XVI said, “Holiness does not consist in not making mistakes or never sinning. Holiness grows with capacity for conversion, repentance, willingness to begin again, and above all with the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness.”
Even though I see my flaws more clearly than ever this year, I see more growth than ever before. I see that holiness was not me being perfect and never needing mercy, but that holiness is taking risks, failing and needing a Savior and his mercy.
Before, I thought mercy was a one-time thing for people who really needed it like the prodigal son. But mercy is for me. Mercy is for me in all of my flaws and all of my little miseries. I cannot save myself or earn holiness. I need a Savior.
With this awareness of my need for God, I can approach others in a different way. I can take risks in calling others on to holiness, even though it’s not the safest option. I can tell my friends when I don’t think they’re making a good choice. I can tell people when they’ve hurt me rather than silently holding a grudge. And I usually don’t do this perfectly. Sometimes I’m too abrupt and offend people. But this risk leads to reconciliation. To the opportunity of going deeper in our friendship.
The need for reconciliation is a good sign. It means things are going right. It means there’s friction and conflict. It means people are trying to love.
Makena Clawson graduated from Benedictine College two year ago and is currently serving as a second-year missionary with Christ in the City in Denver, CO. Her reflection above was written after her experience of participating in a reconciliation workshop run by the Fraternas.