One of the places that can really influence the way you think about yourself and your future is the place that “stretches” you or makes you uncomfortable. That was one of things that Vincent De Paul found out about himself. When he would send his contemporaries out to serve the poor, he told them to expect that they would taught, sometimes in a harsh way. If you’ve ever been priveleged to serve among people who are poor — especially folks who suffer from mental illness or the effects of longterm addictiion or alcoholism — you actually have to confont your fears and limitations, your prejudoces and your insularity. People who are hurt can be tough, nasty SOBs who have little time for our “do-gooder-ism.” Endure it. Welcome it. A lot of growth happens if you talk to others about how you feel in those moments. And you have to keep going back. Connections are only tranformative when they are linked with commitment.

Another place is a place Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vicnet De Paul, found himself in his colege years. he went to a University where there were differfences of opinion, and was involved in discussions where people actually had different thoughts. SUggestion: don’t fill your world up with like-minded people. It’s boring, and it will stunt your growth.