“If it wasn’t for humans, we all could be holy.”- Mother Angelica.
Oftentimes, we find it easier to be holy when we’re alone. We imagine ourselves praying and thinking of good thoughts. We think that holiness is a matter of enjoying a quiet life and avoiding the temptations that come along with the presence of other people.
But is the presence of others truly a hindrance to our holiness? Or is it the other way around?
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 (NRSVCE)
We can only follow God’s commandment by loving other people. It is through our relationships with other people that our love is made visible. It is by loving imperfect people that our love is tested and purified.
Here are some of the ways our relationships can help us grow in holiness:
1. Our relationships help us develop patience
Without the company of other people, we can easily think we’ve already become holy. But once we come in contact with others, we realize just how little patience we truly have!
A little child would try your patience by asking the same question over and over again. A neighbor would play loud music just when you need to get some rest. Your boyfriend would tell you he couldn’t come when you’ve already spent the whole day anticipating your dinner date.
Patience isn’t developed in isolation. It comes when we’re face to face with each other’s mess and shortcomings.
“Resist your impatience faithfully, practicing, not only with reason, but even against reason, holy courtesy and sweetness to all, but especially to those who weary you most.” – St. Francis de Sales
2. Our relationships teach us to forgive
The age of online communication has made superficial relationships prevalent. While we can make virtual friends over the internet, we often feel that we can easily cast people aside whenever we get offended or we feel we no longer have something in common with them.
But real relationships teach us that we can’t just cut off people just because they have made some mistakes. Sometimes, even if the hurt is deep, we learn to forgive so that we can save the relationship we’ve valued for life.
“He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.” – George Herbert
3. Our relationships help us become humble
What better way to know your weaknesses than through your relationships? Through the people who are closest to your heart, you remember your imperfections.
You’d realize that no matter how hard you try, there are times when you’d lose your temper and you’d hurt the ones you love. You’d say words you didn’t mean to say. You’d behave in such a way that would make you feel ashamed later on.
But then after everything that happens, you receive their forgiveness. You have not been cast out. You’re still part of the family or your group of friends. You feel humbled, but you also feel more deeply loved.
“A humble knowledge of myself is a surer way to God than a search after learning.”-Thomas Kempis
4. Our relationships help us let go of our selfishness
Our human relationships are not mere contracts we can cancel whenever we feel it’s no longer advantageous for us. We don’t try to count our good deeds when it comes to the people we love.
When we’re close to someone, we try to give as much as we can. We are more concerned about their good than about our ego or our comfort.
What mother wouldn’t be more concerned about feeding her child even though she has to get up late in the night?
It is our relationships that help us learn what the word “sacrifice” means. Through them, we learn to love selflessly.
“Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.” – Mother Teresa
5. Our relationships support us in our spiritual growth
It is not only by giving that we grow in holiness. It is also by receiving that we increase in virtue.
How many times have you felt encouraged by someone who has prayed for you? How many times have you felt relieved by pouring your weary heart to someone you trust?
Our loved ones are living images of the God who loves us and cares for us. They are His warm hands touching us, comforting us and giving us strength to carry on.
Many times, they influence us even without saying a word. Their virtues shine their light toward us and we receive them. We are like the paralyzed man that his friends have carried down from the roof so that they could bring us closer to Christ.
“God sends us friends in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends, we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal.”- St. Maximilian Kolbe
6. Our relationships help us lean on God
While our loved ones can support us in many ways, there will be times when they could no longer give us what we need.
Each person has a weakness. And all human beings have their limitations.
In times of trial and difficulty, they teach us how we can lean hard on God alone. He is our true strength, hope and consolation. He preserves the peace in our homes. He gives us wisdom whenever our own knowledge fails to find a way.
At the end of all our strength and the strength of those we love, we will realize that the only things we can keep are those that we entrust in the hands of God.
“Holiness does not consist in one exercise or another, but is a disposition of the heart, which renders us humble and little in the hands of God, conscious of our weakness, and confident, even daringly confident, in His fatherly goodness.”- St. Therese of Lisieux
Relationships and Holiness
God never meant for anyone to live alone. We were made in love and we were meant to live in love.
Through our relationships, we draw closer to the kind of person we were supposed to be.
For holiness is nothing else but the perfection of love in us.
“Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.
If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens.
If we love enough, we are going to light a fire in the hearts of others.
And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.”
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of To Love an Invisible God, Defending My Catholic Faith and Mend My Broken Heart.
She writes about relationships and common questions about God and the Catholic faith at Single Catholic Writer. She is currently single and happy and she would like everyone to know how happy we can be by drawing close to the love of God!