Part of maturing spiritually is coming to a greater understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses. We begin to see the areas that allow us to love and serve God — as well as others — while also seeing where we may need work and also coming to accept that we may lack certain gifts that others possess. We are each unique individuals, even though we are united to one another in communion within the Mystical Body.
One of the mistakes we often make is in comparing ourselves to other people. We can focus too much on the gifts that other people possess rather than accepting our own. It is a mark of the maturing soul to be able to admit that we lack an ability or gift in a certain area. This does not mean we are less of a person, rather, it means that God has a different path He wants us to walk that differs from our neighbor’s.
We are not asked to walk someone else’s path. We are asked to walk the one God has placed before us. He created each one of us and He knows exactly how we will grow in holiness. If we ask Him to and we allow Him to, He will make each one of us into a saint. This means that comparing ourselves to others, being jealous, or even envious of another person is a waste of time. God wants each of us to use the gifts He has given to us for His purposes rather than our own. Venerable Fulton Sheen explains:
God has given different gifts to different people. There is no basis for feeling inferior to another who has a different gift. Once it is realized that we shall be judged by the gift we have received, rather than the gift we have not, one is completely delivered from a sense of false inferiority.
Fulton Sheen, Simple Truths page 40
Understanding that God does not expect us to be who we are not or to walk the exact same path as our neighbor should give us a sense of freedom. Once we stop comparing ourselves to others or expecting things of ourselves that are unrealistic, we will be able to live in conformity to God’s will and plan for our lives. He wants each one of us to become the individual saint He intends us to be with our individual personality, interests, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and character flaws. Of course we are meant to continue to work towards overcoming the latter two.
This freedom can also help us to overcome jealousy, envy, and gossip. Pope Francis has repeatedly discussed the dangers of gossip, especially since it so easily lends itself to calumny. Much of the time gossip occurs due to either envy or vengeance. The first being that we look at a person’s gifts whether physical, intellectual, spiritual, etc. and we often try to destroy any good we see because we are insecure about our own lack of that particular good. This often occurs in work environments, but also in our own parishes.