How My Downfalls Bring Me Closer to God

Written by Kathy DeVet

They didn’t make my list either, but I was reading a book recently (Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Phillipe) that said we should be thankful for our faults. Are you kidding me? Really?  

I don’t know about you, but I’m no Mary Poppins. You know—practically perfect in every way. I have my share of faults. I can be cranky and snarky and impatient and eat too much and get really distracted during prayer and not pay attention when my kids tell me about Minecraft/Legos/interest-of-the-month. And really, there are more. I just don’t want to go there.

Fr. Jacques Philippe suggests that we be grateful for our faults. He says even though doing wrong is dangerous, doing only good would be more dangerous. 

What?!  How can it be dangerous to do only good?

Now, Fr. Jacques Philippe isn’t talking about a laziness or indifference to our sins. Instead, he’s talking about humility and gratitude. He warns that we have a temptation to pride which can lead to looking down on others.  Or it can lead to forgetting that everything comes freely from God. It makes me think of that parable with the Pharisee: “I’m so wonderful! Wow! God, you must be so proud of me because I’m not like that guy.” And the tax collector: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus makes it clear that the tax collector had the right attitude. (see Luke 18: 10-14). 

I can totally be that Pharisee. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Me to my son: “STOP YELLING AT YOUR BROTHER!!” That happens to me so often and in so many situations. I condemn someone else’s mistakes and excuse my own.

Like the other day when my husband gently said to me that maybe I shouldn’t yell at our son that much. I immediately came back with, “Well, you try homeschooling all day and see how YOU do!” A few minutes later, when I had calmed down, I had to go apologize. It’s not about how hard it is for me to be patient and loving when the boys won’t do their work; it’s that it’s the right thing for me to model virtue for them, treat them with respect, and be humble when my husband points out when I fail. And not only did I have to apologize to my husband and my son, but I had to take two sins to confession instead of one! (SO thankful for confession!)

When I mess up, it’s hard to keep up that self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee. Then I become more like the tax collector.

When I have the humility of the tax collector, when I see and understand my own faults, then I can be truly and deeply grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The fact that Jesus died for ME! That means so much more when I realize how much I need a savior.

Once God asked St. Catherine of Siena if she knew who she was. (What would you say if God asked you that?) His reply to her was something like: “I Am God. And you are not God.” We need to remember that. He is God. And I am not.

To protect us from being proud and to remind us that we need Him, God sometimes allows us to commit lesser faults. And when we turn back to God in sorrow and repentance and recognition of our need for Him, then we can be so grateful for our faults!

In our weakness, we know we need God. (Just ask St. Paul in 2Cor 12: 7b-10). The key is humility. Knowing who we are, and who we are not. Knowing we need Him and that He will do work in our hearts. Knowing that we are beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who need to let Him accomplish more work in us so that we may become the persons He made us to be and be happy with Him in Heaven forever.

Take a minute and thank Him for your faults; they keep you humble.

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