“We wonder how to walk into the future, how to embrace the new life that God has given us.

“Initially it will feel unnatural, uncertain, unsteady, sometimes even false. Who are we to live in the new life? Who are we to say that we have been freed when we see so many people still in their tombs? It’s natural for us to feel this way, to ask such questions. Yet this is where God wants us.

“This may sound abstract. What might it mean in the concrete? Let’s take a specific case and a general case. Both are common in the spiritual life.

“Let’s say that you feel an invitation to be kinder. You’re not a hardened criminal or a moral monster, but you’ve been, at times, cruel. You wield a sharp tongue with glee. Other people even praise you for your sarcasm. Whether out of spite, vengefulness, or a desire not to let anyone take advantage of you, you’re sometimes pretty mean to other people. You’ve always made excuses: 'They deserved it.' 'No one should get the better of me.' 'It’s a dog-eat-dog world.' Or maybe you think you are a great wit, cutting people down to size, a la Oscar Wilde.

“But at heart you have to face it: sometimes you’re mean.

“Then something happens—a look of hurt on someone’s face, a chance conversation, a friend challenging you, a family member hurt by what you said, a therapist helping you see things in a new light, an experience on a retreat, a sudden insight in prayer — that makes you realize that you’re being called to let that die…. That part of you — the mean part — is not what God wants for you. You realize that being kind is an enormous part of the Christian life — of any moral life.”