Are you who you want to be?
“There hasn’t been a single day of my life when I was just the true me, the person I want to be, which is the person God wants me to be.” (Before I Go, Peter Kreeft)
When I read the words above, I thought to myself, “Can I even think of a time where I was the ‘true me’ for a whole day, or even just a moment?” Can you?
From a young age, we’re told the way to be true to ourselves is to follow our hearts and do what feels good for us. The ultimate goods are self-esteem and self-actualization, and we should do whatever it takes to get there.
But there’s a tension here. If we really did what feels good or what our fickle hearts tell us, we’re probably going to end up hurting ourselves and other people. Because we’re human, what we want doesn’t always match up with what God wants. God is the source of all things good, true and beautiful, but sometimes the things we tend toward are bad, misleading, and ugly.
So, we’re left with a truly confusing identity crisis, especially in our generation. I can’t tell you the number of times a student has said to me, “I feel like I can’t be myself” to my roommate, to my boyfriend, to my sorority sisters, to my family. But even if we got to the point where we felt comfortable to be ourselves, who would that self even be? Where do we find your identity?
When I was in college, I found my identity in the things that I did. I gave tours of campus and recruited football players. I was involved with student government and orientation. I had internships and sat on committees. My grades were good and my number of Facebook friends was very respectable (some might say ridiculous).
I loved doing all of these things, and I really believe God led me to each one for a specific reason. But even still, the things I did or do or will do don’t make me who I am.
So, how do we stay true to ourselves while remaining true to God? What is the solution? Or rather, who is the solution?
Jesus said, “learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart” (see Matt 11:29). There are so many ways in which we could strive to imitate our Lord: we could be preachers, we could cast out demons, we could heal the sick. He calls each of us to something special, but in this moment, Jesus is telling everyone to be humble. St. Augustine used to pray, “May I know thee! May I know myself!” In praying this, he asked for humility, which is a true knowledge of God and oneself. (Humility of Heart, Fr. Bergamo)
In our time, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II attracted all kinds of people, not because of their talents or skills, but because of their humility. They knew exactly who they were in the eyes of God, and they knew exactly who and what they wanted to be: saints. They radiated grace, contentment, and uniqueness.
They were truly themselves.
How might this world look if you and I were truly ourselves?
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Are you who you want to be?
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
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