The Call to Be Who You Are
"Be who you are,
and be that well."
~ Francis de Sales
And truly, how can we be anything but who we are?
As a child, I was once asked by a nun who was also my teacher, what I wished to be when I grew up. And I simply responded, "A saint."
Of course, I had no idea what that meant, but somehow I felt enamored by the lives of the many martyrs I read about. Today, I ask myself, "What was I thinking?"
But what I really think I meant, was that I was seeking a life of wholeness. I wanted to be the best person that I could possibly be, and in my childish understanding, I thought those people were saints - people who truly became the best human beings possible. Implicit in my understanding was a sort of perfection, that of course, I know now - does not exist.
"Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
~ Matthew 5:48
Even so, we strive for something that at times seems elusive. Can it really be attained?
James Martin, SJ, in his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage, speaks of the magnetism of saints. When you think of a Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or a Pope Francis, you are simply drawn to them and their charismatic personalities.
But most of us will not leave lives of grandeur, but of quiet significance to those to whom we really matter. Even Mother Teresa was plagued by self-doubt and felt a tremendous absence of Divine Presence most of her life.
I believe we are all here for a reason. To be the best person that we can possibly be. And we all have unique gifts to contribute to make this world a better place. I believe we all receive this call to be who we are, and be that well. It's just that some of us choose to respond, and some of us do not...
This weekend, I received sad news about a very gifted friend who seemed destined for success in every way. He was a marvelous artist, yet he managed to squander his gifts and resources, and now is ill and destitute. I ask myself, how could this happen? How could he throw away all that talent? But we all know of someone who has...
We receive a call to be who we are. We may strive and at time fail to embody this goal. We can allow ourselves to wallow in our failures or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again.
The path to wholeness is not an easy one. It is seldom romantic. It is filled with disappointments. But it doesn't matter. We are not defined by our limitations. Like the Anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th century spiritual classic, I do believe, that God does not see with His all merciful eyes who we are in every instance of our lives, but who we strive to be. And this fills me with tremendous hope. And love.
Answer the call to be who you are. It is never too late!