There’s something natural about self-criticism. We see ourselves in pictures, and we instantly focus on our faults and imperfections. In many ways, those pictures don’t align with the way that we see ourselves. I had an incredible experience of taking a picture that I felt perfectly captured me. I saw in that image the physical transformation that I’ve undergone this year. It reminds me of the overwhelming power of redemption. No matter how far gone we are, there’s always a way back.
Since Christmas, Alison and I have been working on our physical health. In one form or another, I’ve been doing this kind of work since 2011. This year, though, has been profoundly different. Working together, we’ve diligently stuck to our diet. In addition, I’m walking almost daily. The results are exactly what should be expected from a program of diet and exercise. I’m at my lowest weight in five years, and overall, I’m healthier than I was seven years ago.
The photograph has beautifully captured the transformation. In it, I see beauty. I see vibrance and life. I see a completely different man than I saw in the mirror last winter.
The kind of radical change that I’ve experienced in my physical appearance is possible with the state of my soul. No matter how cold, hard, or selfish I’ve become, a complete change is possible. It starts in the confessional through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s reinforced through the transformative Eucharist. It’s nurtured through a robust daily prayer life.
The care, health, and wellness of our soul is the work of a lifetime. The same elements that contribute to an improvement in physical health are required for the improvement of spiritual health. We need a solid blueprint, a clear-eyed goal, and daily diligence. I will never become a saint, or even know peace, unless I put in the work.