This month’s blog series is “Uniquely Created.” Last month we spoke about Gathering the graces. God graces us with all we need to be the person God uniquely created us to be. If we internalize and believe and trust that we are in fact uniquely created, uniquely gifted, uniquely formed, and uniquely called…we can more easily move into the person God created us to be.
I recently overheard a woman say to another woman, “You look so good in that dress!” I saw her whole body light up as she received the compliment. She looked herself over again in a nearby mirror savoring and exploring the dress through the eyes of her friend. I watched as her eyes rose to delight and fell in disappointment as she looked at herself. I thought to myself, “Wow, I know that feeling!”
You know that feeling. It is the fleeting feeling that you are lifted from the despair of your own critical voice to only find that you are only again as you have always been. This critical voice is so very loud in so many of us. It has been shaped by critical interior and external voices of our past. We have reinforced these voices with our belief in them and our decision to allow them to echo inside of us. It is because of these critical voices that we leech onto compliments starving for a path away from these voices.
Knowing our deep desire to move away from these voices merits our consideration of our own worth and dignity. It is a vicious cycle of dependence that so many of us live in moving from one compliment to the next looking for validation. We desire so deeply to be loved and good.
Consider the Woman at the Well. As she approaches the well, an activity she likely does daily as she runs out of fresh water, she is worn and tired. We often get thirsty again when we depend on compliments and comments to validate our worth. Jesus offers her “living water,” a water that will make her “never thirst again” (John 4). This water will become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4). Jesus looks deeply into this woman and offers knowledge of her own self, her own creation.
As a spiritual director, friend, and mother, I am graced to listen to so many others who long to understand that they are uniquely, purposeful, and willfully made by God.
Often, we look for ways to remind ourselves of our own goodness. We look for compliments as the source of our goodness. Compliments, though a beautiful outflow of our own love for one another, are not the source of our goodness. When we treat compliments as the source of our goodness, we have great moments of despair as we wait for the next “fix,” or compliment, to relieve us momentarily of despair.
Fr. Henri Nowen speaks of 5 lies:
- I am what I have.
- I am what I do.
- I am what other people say or think of me.
- I am nothing more than my worst moment.
- I am nothing less than my best moment.
These lies become a cycle of high’s and low’s in our life instead of grounding ourselves in God as the source of our creation and goodness.
God, the creator, is the root of our goodness. We are not made to live in despair; we are made for joy. In a homily Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said:
Is there nothing more delightful than living in the awareness that we are each a thought of God? Willed? Loved? Necessary? We are creatures of the Creator. Every cell of our body comes together intentionally in the beloved image of the Creator.
Becoming aware that we are willed, loved, and necessary grounds us in our own creation. Knowing that God the Creator intentionally creates us, frees us to receive the goodness of compliments. We become not only free from the negative voices that plague us, but free to become the CREATURE that the CREATOR is presently creating. Because of this gift of freedom, our worth and dignity are rooted into our lives. It propels us to create the Reign of God here on earth. We are then free to receive and free not to receive compliments concerning our ongoing creation.
When we become aware of our own creation, we grow in our understanding of how God loved us into life. Our response then is so filling that it directly reflects our creation. Our response is deep love of God and ourselves “without limit.”
*For Abby and Emma, my beloveds.
- Read more about St Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation. In the First Principle and Foundation St. Ignatius invites us to put God as the center of our lives. In the first line he writes, “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.”
- Psalm 139: 1-16
- Review again the Discovering my Unique Gifts and Call tool.
Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash.