A Work In Progress
I wrote before about the presumptions we might have of someone standing in front of us as being someone who has it all together or at least may give that impression. We might see others as having better lives than we do. But this is erroneous. We are likely projecting on to them what we might desire about our own lives. The life others may be living could be very far from the imaginings we have for them. Their reality may not match in any way the one we project on them.
What we want for ourselves is often what others would like to have for themselves as well. Perhaps if we could meet under different circumstances we might see a reflection of ourselves. Often the other is simply another version of ourselves. Why? Because we are a work in progress. All of us. We are none of us perfect either from birth or during our lifetimes. We simply find our way through life without a manual or road map. We are simply on the road with all the others and making a journey as best as we can.
For some there is a comfort in family and friends who can help us through their experience. St Peter Canisius said: “Without friends there is no living, and to take friendship away is nothing else than to take the sun out of the sky”. But for many there is only the path alone, a lonely path with common sense as a companion. Through all of this we learn the best way forward and seek shelter from time to time in places of security: Church, Bible, relations. What we frequently seek is advice and affirmation when faced with a fork in the road. We find some of that in Scripture. We hear it in sermons and advice from others.
In any case, the whole of humanity is a work in progress. It has eras of good and periods of horror. In each individual there is the same. Each person can know moments of joy and times of difficulty and sorrow. All this makes the person who they are. And it behoves us to be gentle with everyone because we, like they, are far from complete.
Because we are working towards a better us, we need patience with ourselves. We need to love ourselves and others. And in being under construction for such a long time, brick by brick, we learn to toil in peace and work towards the perfection asked of us “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behaviour” (1 Peter 1: 15). We are asked to change for the better and so we can be. We are part of that work, not passively waiting for a change, but actively seeking it in dozens of small ways every day.
Being “a work in progress” is not license to be inattentive in that movement towards change. It is simply a period of time, a life time, in which we are improved and changed for the better. Be patient with others in the hope and desire that they will be patient with us as well. The struggle will be rewarded, and if we have used the time to learn the Virtues and put them into practice in our lives, we will indeed be the people we would like to be, even the sort of people we imagine others are who are no more than we are…works in progress.