“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Lk. 8:17
“God makes use of anything.” -St. John Vianney
Try as we might, true holiness cannot be achieved without God’s grace. But never-fear, God is there to help us achieve our goal, we just need to be willing to use every opportunity to give Him honor and glory. I truly believe this, so when we left for Mexico 3 weeks ago that was my goal.
There are 2 cardinal rules for those visiting rural Mexico from the US. The first: don’t drink the water, and the second: don’t flush the toilet paper. The first rule is for our safety, the water can make us sick. The second is due to a lack of sufficient sewage capabilities. For most, I would assume, these are manageable though inconvenient rules. I almost looked forward to the small sacrifices that these would require of me. I would not always having water at my disposal, unless I brought my water bottle and the gross but easily do-able sacrifice of throwing dirty toilet paper into the trashcan. What I was not completely prepared for was just how habitual throwing my “trash” into the toilet was. More than once I found myself fishing out that “sacrifice” after a brief lapse of concentration allowed my paper disposal to begin floating in the watery abyss below.
One thing that I neglected to even begin preparing myself for was what happens when there is a combination of not following rules #1 and rule #2. For my part, I was very good about not drinking the water, but children do not always prefer to do as directed. Therefore it was not long before I found myself in a bathroom with a small 2 year old looking up at me saying he was “all done,” and me realizing that, among many other things, there was toilet paper floating in the porcelain throne below him.
So now the dilemma: to fish or not to fish. If I just went ahead and flushed, it would probably go down with no trouble this once, and no one would ever really know. I mean no one besides a two year old was in the room with me, and I had given him the task of pulling up his britches. And really, what kind of an example would I be to him if I did go for that toilet paper—It would be like the fulfillment of all his earliest fantasies: it’s finally OK to play in the toilet!
It struck me at that moment, how often I do this. I had been so willing to offer every sacrifice I could to God, and now I found myself trying to find any way out of this small thing that lay before me. God gives me a plethora of occasions in which I can offer my life to him, but I talk myself out of these opportunities for service, these awesome opportunities for grace. Had I not, just two days earlier, waited in eager anticipation for opportunities to offer to God. My growth in holiness is directly proportionate to my willingness to use EVERY opportunity to forget about myself. My comfort should be nothing when a circumstance like this arrives. God sees me. God knows my heart. Offering to God an obedient heart is worth more than the trauma of anything I could face, especially in this particular circumstance. Jesus became man. He, who is so far above us in every way, chose to take on our human nature to redeem us. I, a mere human, could certainly endure exposure to this “fallen nature” that floated before me.
In the end, I was able to remove the offending material, which had for the past few seconds spent its time happily soaking up all that it could of its surroundings, and not only that, I was able to do it with a smile! What a wonderful gift! I was given an opportunity to suffer, if even just a little bit, to challenge my comfort zone,to show a 2 year old that even Mom will follow rules no matter what must be endured, to offer to God my circumstance and to receive grace, and it all happened within the span of less than a minute!
If every challenge of my life from this moment on I conquer as triumphantly as that one, I have no doubts that when I approach the pearly gates, I will be recognized! St. Therese’s “little way” has never been more real to me. Every opportunity is an opportunity for grace and growth in holiness, even when it requires fishing for toilet paper!