For hundreds of years, spiritual directors in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, have used the metaphor of an onion to explain the spiritual life. I have referred it for decades because it is a perfect symbol, an image that really is worth a thousand words. It is easy to become discouraged when I seem faced with the same issues, wounds and weaknesses again and again. The mistake is to believe that nothing has changed since the last confession and subsequent experience of grace. That the encounter with the Divine was ineffective, that it was a failure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that I am human and as an earthling, living in a body, made from dust, I must allow the Holy Spirit to transform me slowly. If God flooded me with an infusion of light and love, I would probably fry, die from light overdose. So, in His kindness and wisdom, God slowly removes one layer of darkness at a time. I surrender one layer of fear, mistrust or sin at a time, only to expose another layer of darkness to His light for the next encounter with the Divine.
Finally we discover that at our core, we are simply children of God, loved, blessed and living in communion with the Trinity in a deep, peaceful relationship that is vibrant and joyful. Then we start to live as we were meant to live, as channels of His loving presence on earth