This guest post originally appeared at Footprints on My Heart, but the author is generously letting us borrow it. A great reflection on being yourself, loving your family, and letting God lead.
Unique and Beautiful You
By Sarah Therese
“You are beautiful. You are loved.
You are unrepeatable, unique, valuable.
You are sacred in God’s eyes.
You are sacred.
For practically my entire life, I have struggled with self-esteem. I thought in order to be myself I had to be somebody else. I thought that by adapting their styles, their beliefs, their level of maturity, their personality, their behavior, etc. into my lifestyle, I would figure out who I am and what I am supposed to be. I spent much of my time comparing myself to people, especially my siblings, and wasting away the hours of the day daydreaming and longing to be somebody else.
I longed to be somebody else because I thought they were beautiful.
I longed to be beautiful. Happy. Cherished.
It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I began to realize that I am my own person. I don’t have to, or really need to, be somebody else. I began to look at my family differently and notice the unique personalities, similarities and differences of each member. They all had one thing in common, but what struck me was how uniquely they each went about being it: beautiful.
I was a 17-year-old senior in high school. It was a strange year for me: homeschooled my entire life and now I was being more immediately prepared to venture out on my own path. I had to discern the difference between what I thought I was supposed to do (namely, follow directly in the footsteps of any one of my older siblings) and what God’s will truly was for me. I wanted to take a year off from academics and serve on NET Ministries as my brother had done several years before. I applied and went to an interview weekend at Franciscan University. While there, I prayed and prayed, but was confused by the thoughts in my heart. I thought that this is what God was calling me to do. I thought that this would be the perfect way to grow up, to witness to my brother (who had since fallen away from the Faith). I thought that this was God’s plan for me because one of my siblings had done it before. And I would have pushed myself through it had NET not sent me a letter asking me to wait. I was not called to travel with them, at least not that year.
I knew this meant I would be attending the Community College in our area that Fall. If ever there was something I dreaded, this was it. I did not want to go to college. I did not feel I was ready for college. I did not think I was responsible enough for college. But going to college and being in a classroom for the first time in my life sounded like a more productive and richer experience to this 17-year-old than getting a full-time job flipping burgers. So I went.
And praised be Jesus Christ! He knew. God always has a plan.
That first semester of college, I learned about the Montessori Method for the first time. It immediately resonated with me as something I would be comfortable with and enjoy coming from a homeschool background. I was eager to learn more about the method.
This is when I began to realize and accept that God has his own unique and beautiful plan for me and he probably wasn’t calling me to follow precisely in my older sisters’ footsteps. None of my siblings had ever done anything with the Montessori Method, much less knew what it was. Exploring this was a unique adventure that none of my siblings had previously traveled. It was all me… and God.
A year later I had a job at a real Montessori school.
I. Loved. It.
Still do, in fact.
I’ve now been working there a year and have enjoyed every moment (even the less pleasant times). God knew. All along, from the time before I was created, God was writing my story and making me a unique and beautiful individual, unrepeatable, and precious in His eyes.
Beautiful. Cherished. Beloved.
It wasn’t until just recently that I began to accept God’s love for me as me. God isn’t calling me to be my sister, my Mom, or my best friend. God isn’t calling me to be that blogger or the other blogger. God isn’t calling me to be that person in the pew in front of me who looks so beautiful and holy. He is calling me to learn from them and love them, but he isn’t calling me to be them. He is calling me to be me: ultimately, a saint.
When in high school, I asked a friend (who is now a priest) for some advice regarding prayer, spiritual growth, and vocational discernment. His response:
“Pray, pray, and more pray. Also be a good woman. Don’t grow up too fast, but enjoy life as God brings it to you. If you work on being the holiest and most virtuous woman of God you can be, your vocation will become pretty clear.”
Now in college, under the guidance of a spiritual director, I understand his words in a new and brighter light. God is not calling me to be anxious, concerned, and worried about yesterday, today, or tomorrow. If I am so sure that only in God will my soul be at rest, that only on his path will I be happiest — what reason do I have to worry? What further proof do I need that his will is my delight? God is calling me. He is. I know it. I have a vocation; I need not worry about the details. If I focus on being the holiest and most virtuous woman of God I can be, all will be well. There is peace and joy in doing the Father’s will.
God has a story written for me. Frequently, I wish I could be the editor. Despite all the spelling and grammatical errors I contribute, I trust that the manuscript will be revised and polished (through the Sacraments, especially Confession) and ready to print. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; His love won’t be any different from one day to the next.
*Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, by Pat Gohn, Ave Maria Press.
Sarah Thérèse is a 20-something homeschool grad-turned-Montessori Teacher Assistant currently working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education. First and foremost, though, she is Catholic, a daughter of the King, and lover of life. She blogs about her journey toward a deeper relationship with Christ at Footprints On My Heart (http://totus2usmaria.blogspot.com/).