At this beginning of this New Year I am mindful of the heightened desire and drive that many people have to set new goals for themselves. Typically, these goals involve some form of personal development, whether it be physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, or a combination of those. A new year marks a new beginning and a renewed opportunity for transformation. The determination I witness in those around me to create real positive change in their lives is inspiring and I feel energized by their efforts to stay the course in the goals I have personally set for myself.
With each new goal that I envision myself accomplishing, I am reminded that God has a very clear purpose and plan – and that my goals are unique to me and His will for my life. As a young college girl, I read the beautiful autobiography of St Thérèse of Lisieux – Story of a Soul. There is a short paragraph at the beginning of her story that was impressed in my heart the moment my eyes read it and one I recall each year as I fashion new goals.
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 no longer be enameled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord’s living garden. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.
When I am tempted to set a goal that pursues the grandeur and “brilliance of the rose,” while undoubtedly knowing God is calling me to be a more beautiful and prominent daisy, I remind myself that we all have a place in God’s garden, the garden of life, and I am called to take my place with confidence and grace. To utter the words of St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!” Every soul in God’s garden is needed to create the loveliness of spring — to set the world on fire in a way that can only happen when we each do our part to be the best version of ourselves, the individuals that God created each one of us in our own irreplaceable ways to become!
When we don’t align our goals with God’s plan for our lives, we set ourselves up for failure. Ask God what He would like you to work on this year, what things He would like to see you accomplish and what positive changes He would like you to make. Tell God what is important to you and ask Him if it fits in with His overall plan for your life. Trust in His will and know that what He is asking of you will probably not be easy. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!” YOU WERE MADE FOR GREATNESS! Go be great! Do not count the cost and do not try to be someone or something you are not. Be you – wonderfully YOU!
Have you ever seen a flock of geese flying in the sky together? They fly in the shape of a V. Scientists have determined that they do this for two reasons. First, it conserves their energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of them which results in a reduction of wind resistance. They each have a place and they each know their place in the V so they can fly together without flying into one another. The birds take turns being in front and in this way, they can fly for a longer period of time before they must stop for rest. The second reason for flying in formation is that it is the easiest way to keep track of all the geese in the group and it assists with the communication and coordination within the group. In the same way, God has a specific place for each one of us at each given moment of our lives so we can be who He needs us to be in those particular moments. Sometimes we are at the front of the V and other times we shift to the sidelines. When we take our place in God’s formation for our life, we best use our gifts and talents for His glory, while simultaneously growing in the ways that help us to be GREAT — great in every way we can be as a person! You were made for greatness! Go be great!
Copyright 2020 Kathleen Billings