This month’s blog series is “Discovering Our Call.” 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.
In 6th grade, I decided that I was too happy. I had heard the many comments on my loud, infectious laughter and naturally cheery outlook, and was entirely convinced that it must be a bad thing. So, I took action. At the beginning of the second semester, I moved all my seats to be far from my friends so that I wouldn’t get in trouble for talking and laughing too much. I focused on paying attention to the material being presented and not the people around me. I made an effort to still be friendly, but less excited. In general terms, I tried to remove the usual exclamation mark on everything I said or did.
By the end of the year, my grades were nearly perfect — but I was pretty miserable. My efforts to try to change myself were tiresome and fruitless. I finally came to the realization that I am simply a cheerful person and probably always will be. I started to accept that as fact and own it as part of me. In retrospect, it seems hilarious that I had to make a conscious decision to be something that is so naturally ingrained in who I am.
My ability to smile broadly and often, and to laugh with my whole heart, are gifts that God has given me, but they are not my identity. As Becky writes in The Inner Chapel: “Who I am in God is who I am.” I am a beloved child of God.
It is that simple, but yet, I find myself needing consistent reminders. It often seems too easy to notice a uniqueness in myself, my personality or my way of being, and instantly return to my middle school self, struggling to see myself and my gifts as God sees them. Instead of embracing them as a way that God has made me uniquely unrepeatable, I tend to cling to them as a weakness, or at best, not fully accept that these qualities are part of how God uniquely, personally, and purposely, made me.
A tool that I lean on consistently is St Ignatius’ Suscipe prayer. Last month in our Gathering Graces series, Faye focused on the last two lines. This time, I invite you to read the full prayer in a unique way. Read the words slowly and silently to yourself, but when you come to a word in bold, speak it aloud.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
I like to let the repetition of “all” and “everything” hang in the air. When I commit all of me, including my strengths and weaknesses, to God, my concerns about identity disappear. It is not about me. In returning it all to the Lord, I can ground myself in gratitude for my creator and know in my depths that I am indeed a beloved child of God.
- Spend time in prayer with a sung version of the suscipe written by John Foley, SJ and performed by Natalie Lelyo.
Photo by Jamie Brown on Unsplash.