God given Free Will is a marvelous gift. A godlike gift because it says of every human being that they, in the image and likeness of God, are free to live their lives so that the words, “I did it my way”, are true in ways that no other species on earth can say.
Thanks to Adam’s and Eve’s sin, human nature is changeable and flawed. We are not automatically inclined to true Good. We do not automatically decide to follow God. This changeable nature means we must use our free will and our reasoning ability to decide who to be and how to live.
God gave humans this free will because love coerced is not love, but love freely given by an act of free will is genuine and real. In an odd sort of way, God created us with greater freedom than His own. Our changeable natures give us a capacity for doing things our own way that can be totally evil. We have that freedom. God’s own nature is unchanging, He is GOODNESS, LOVE, JUSTICE and MERCY and God never acts in any way but in accordance with His own nature. We humans with our changeable natures are free to violate our own standards!
The challenge is to keep ourselves honest. Our very changeable natures are only as honest as we, by our free will cooperating with grace, choose to make ourselves. God gives graces to aid us by empowering us to overcome concupiscence, that inclination to willfully choose evil, but God will never violate our free will. We can, and often do, lie to ourselves to justify choosing an evil that feels good when an honest assessment would show us another way. We don’t have to do this dishonest act. We choose it. By grace we can seek to be completely honest, we can measure our decisions by God’s way if we choose it as our own. GRACE guarantees our freedom.
Thanks to the grace of God, my free will and intellect work together. I think, reason, and choose my actions and attitudes and thus determine who I am. It is an ongoing challenge to conform this changeable human nature to what I have by my own free will chosen.
I am Catholic because I am living my way. I have a free will guaranteed by grace. I do things because I want to do them. I pray, not because God orders it, but because I choose to pray. I pray because ultimately, it is my own way based on a standard I have reason to follow as my own.
God’s grace, free will, and reason are three gifts we have to use to make of ourselves who will we become and what OUR WAY shall be. I want my way to be exactly the same as God’s way. I want to be able to sing this song and have it be true and yet not be a declaration of willful sinfulness but a declaration of willful holiness:
I have a dream for myself and for those I love that, on each of our judgement days, we can stand before God and as we watch the last bit of our lives spin out before us, good and bad, we can see who we have become and say of ourselves at the end, “I did it my way” and hear back from the perfection of the Holy Trinity, “Well done, good and faithful servant” because my way has grown to be the same as His.