We must take time, take pains, have a plan, form spiritual habits, if we are to keep our souls alive; and now is the time to begin. A man to whom religion is a reality, and who knows what is meant by “the practice of salvation,” keeps his balance, because the living center of his life is spiritual. He cannot be upset, not shaken. The same hard knocks come to him as to others, but he reacts to them by the central law of his life. He suffers deeply, but he does not sour. He knows frustration, but he goes right on in his kindness and faith. He sees his own shortcomings but he does not give up, because a power rises up from his spiritual center and urges him to the best. –Joseph Fort Newton
I’m hardly a poster child for piety. I struggle like most everyone else with laziness, selfishness and doubts. I struggle to pray, to fast, to attend services, and when I do attend Church services I struggle to reign in my wandering thoughts. I struggle with consistency and discipline. I struggle with pride and despair. I struggle, but I do not quit.
I do not quit because my feeble efforts to live the life of the Church Christ, in His mercy, transforms into inner peace, despite what chaos is swirling up all around me. I keep picking myself back up and moving forward down the narrow path of ancient Orthodox Christianity because the Orthodox faith contains a treasure trove of tools to help me seek first the Kingdom of God.
I risk everything, including comfort and my reputation, to remain unashamedly in Christ’s presence because only when I am attentively in His presence can he override my laziness, selfishness and doubts, and fill me instead with compassion, patience, perseverance, and a sense of unshakable rootedness in something holy and eternal.
Spiritual habits do indeed keep my soul alive, and they keep my eyes peeled for redemption and beauty in everything and everyone. I work, and work, and continuously work out my salvation because the purifying work of salvation is what makes living, and struggling, and loving on this earth so very worthwhile.