See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 1 John 3:1, 2
Recently, I read a Facebook post from a young woman I have known for many years. She mentioned that she had been single for three years and has been working out, getting to know herself, and trying to become the “best version of herself”. Thus transformed she is looking for a man who, likewise, has achieved the “best version” of himself and hopes that in time they may marry and settle down. Hmmm…I wonder: can we become the “best version of ourselves” without God’s help?
St. John tells us that, indeed, we are not a finished product; we are more nearly a “work in progress”. However, it seems to me that John is suggesting that it is abiding in Jesus and the realization of what it means to be children of God that will help us grow in holiness. This is the conversion story: a slow change of heart and mind to Christ. But, surely the main point is that we can do little by ourselves, no matter how hard the work we do to become the “best version” of ourselves. Humans are prone to self-deception and give up easily when the going gets tough. It is the slow work of the Holy Spirit in us that helps us become more like Jesus. In fact, often we are not even aware of the ways in which the Holy Spirit is opening us to grace. But the Holy Spirit is always successful!
Henri Nouwen says that it is when we allow ourselves to be found by God, and then known and loved by God, that real change will happen. By opening ourselves to the Divine Love through prayer we allow ourselves to be drawn closer to God. There is never a moment that the Divine Love is not at work in us. Until then all change will be superficial.
I believe that young woman will get further ahead if she works on her prayer life rather than her six pack. However, we each have a unique journey to the Lord, and we must each find our own way. I shall pray for her, and for myself on my journey. Blessings.