I remember reading long ago in The Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, that we deceive ourselves if we think we would be holier if only our exterior circumstances were different. That made a great impression on me.
Temperamentally, some people feel they are in control of everything. Others feel like they are controlled by forces outside themselves. Melancholics can especially fall into this second attitude, feeling sorry for themselves and powerless to change their circumstances. St. Paul encourages such people:
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7)
Even when we are powerless to overcome our circumstances, God is not. Indeed, as both Paul and St. Therese tell us, our weakness can actually be an asset.
Teresa of Avila warned those who would come after her not to dismiss the holiness of the early Discalced Carmelites with a “that was then, this is now” attitude.
The Time is always propitious for God to grant His great favors towards those who truly serve Him. Let them consider therefore if there is any great fault in them, and amend it.” (Foundations Chap. 4)
We could easily think, “Oh, I’ll have so much more time to pray when I’m retired.” That may be true, but having extra time doesn’t mean we’ll use it wisely. We need to form habits of prayer now, while time is scarce.
Or, “When my kids are in school full time, then I can live a more contemplative life.” But instead, we might spend more time running errands or visiting with friends.
Or, “If only my job weren’t so demanding, I could focus more on my spiritual life.” But perhaps surrender is the next step we are meant to take.
“If my spouse were easier to live with, I’d have far fewer sins.” Maybe we would just have more pride.
The fact is, God knows our circumstances better then we do. When we follow God despite our circumstances we gain more merit than we would if circumstances were easy. And we actually grow, instead of dreaming about growing.
God has a plan for each of us, a plan He wants us to implement today. And though the details may be different according to our temperament, talents, and circumstances, the general outlines of that plan are the same.
Pray. Trust. Be humble. Learn detachment. Do everything with love. Be determined to never give up. These are the foundations of spiritual growth, and they are accessible to us all. This moment.