Keeping God's Garden Beautiful By Being Ourselves

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It’s so easy to think: it’s not fair.

One friend is radiant. All the time. Even when her children are misbehaving. Another prays effortlessly and ceaselessly. Another seems so peaceful no matter what is spinning around her. Another can take charge of a situation faster than you can figure out what the problem is.

And what should our response be in the face of the gifts of others? We should, of course, rejoice in them and how they glorify our generous and loving God. Often, though, it can be a source of temptation to envy and incite our suspicion of God’s goodness: if He’s given that certain gift to her, why hasn’t He given it to me?

St. Therese of Liseux herself wondered why God gives gifts and talents in different type and quantity to souls. In her autobiography Story of a Soul she explains what God made known to her regarding this question:

“Our Lord has deigned to explain this mystery to me. He showed me the book of nature, and I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose its springtide beauty, and the fields would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues.

“And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord’s living garden. He has been pleased to create great Saints who may be compared to the lily and the rose, but He has also created lesser ones, who must be content to be daisies or simple violets flowering at His Feet, and whose mission it is to gladden His Divine Eyes when He deigns to look down on them. And the more gladly they do His Will the greater is their perfection.” (Chapter 1)

It’s truly exhausting trying to be someone we’re not. We are, of course, called to be the best version of ourselves, to lift a phrase from Matthew Kelly. But God doesn’t expect us to be more like our sisters. He simply wants us to love Him and serve Him with the gifts that He’s given just to us.

If we can rest in knowing that He’s made us beautiful and that our unique gifts make Him happy, we’ll reach peace like St. Therese in knowing that the Lord delights in us no matter what flower we might be.

Copyright 2014 Meg Matenaer

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5 Comments

  1. Meg, I will confess I am a “why her and not me” devoutee! I don’t want to be, I pray for the grace to accept the amazing gifts God has blessed me with but I find myself falling into that trap again and again. YOU are 100% correct it is “truly exhausting be to something you are not” – thanks for this helpful reminder, and for St. Therese’s gentle but profound teaching! I pray today to be content to be a dandelion – nothing more, nothing less – and… to admire all the roses, tulips, and daisies God has placed to graciously around me!!!

    • Oh, Allison, thanks for the laugh! (Although, dandelions don’t count–God certainly didn’t make you a weed!!) I think this is a struggle for everyone, and I was really heartened by her point that all the flowers make Him happy, each in a different way.

      Delighting in YOUR unique beauty today, Meg

  2. I loved this for so many reasons, Meg!
    I think about this flower analogy the way I think about people who have “big” personalities or very obvious larger-than-life gifts. If everyone’s “thing” was big or loud, we would be utterly unable to see or hear one another. I also – in spite of having the ability to loud it up on occasion – have always been more of an admirer of those quieter, less obvious talents in others. And flowers, too. I’ll take daisies over roses any time.
    And Allison, I think we all have our dandelion days, but no way are you a weed!! 🙂

  3. I think our teenage daughters especially struggle with a desire to have the gifts of others as they work to develop their own sense of belonging in their relationships. St. Therese’ simple words are so comforting, and they coincide beautifully with St. Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Thank you for this post.

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