Q : 
I have tried so hard to change myself but most of the time I failed. What should I do to stop my shortcomings?
【 Question from 】 Hong Kong 香港

Fr. Francis : 

This is a question that every sincere follower of Christ struggles with. Christ calls us to holiness. We want to, or at least at times are inspired to, become holy, to follow Him unreservedly. And yet we find that although there are a few things we could improve, we quickly discover that more and more things about ourselves that we cannot fix. Indeed, this could become quite discouraging, and may even cause us to despair.

To begin, I must first acknowledge that I have brokenness and weaknesses in me that I myself cannot fix. In other words, I am a hopeless sinner. But at the same time, I am deeply loved by Jesus. He loves me not because I am perfect or strong. In fact, the more I see my helplessness, the more He loves me. I am not okay, but it is okay that I am not okay because Jesus loves me as I am. It is not about performance here. It is about knowing how crazy Jesus’ love and mercy for me is all about.

The second step therefore is that I must acknowledge Jesus’ love and that His power to heal me is real. Jesus loves me where I am, but His desire is to heal me. I need to stop depending on my own abilities, but more depend on Him. In other words, if I have a weakness in gossiping, I am really powerless fighting it. I must therefore stop relying on my own ability and wisdom, but turn to Jesus and others for help, because I don’t have it within me to fix it.

The third step then is to turn myself over to Jesus, or I must surrender myself to Him. What this means is to consciously and intentionally invite Jesus into every struggle I have. When I start my day, before I have a chance to fall again, I must go to Jesus to pray. This is not just any common or general prayer, but I must specifically mention to Jesus these areas that I find myself most helpless, and those people and situations that will come up today in which I will most likely stumble. Jesus, be there when I am angry. Be there at that meeting. Be there on the road. Be there when others gossip lest I be tempted. Let me remember Your presence when I am weak or tempted. Give me Your patience instead. Give me Your wisdom, Your grace, Your strength…

This can be done several times throughout the day. In fact, that is why St. Paul said we must pray unceasingly. Some people, in order to remind themselves, would put a religious article near them, especially at those locations they most often fall: in the car, on their work desk, beside their computer, at home, on their wrist, on a finger, etc.

If we remember Jesus is by our side every conscious moment of the day, and if we invite Him into every situation we find ourselves, we will soon find ourselves either have to deliberately choose to reject Him, or begging for His help before we act.

And when we fall short, do not panic. It is okay. So long as we trust that God’s mercy is greater than my sin, go to Him in confession. Surrender your guilt and failure once again to Him. Remember, He loves you much, and much more especially when you most need Him.