Mary Alex is a newbie blogger at Ever Ancient where she is "dedicated to sharing a glimpse of an Ever Ancient God, an Ever Ancient Church and and the 'Ever Ancient City' of St. Augustine, FL." It's pretty cool, you guys. Go visit and show her some love!
Before I moved to this city, I had this somewhat obscure idea of who I was. I think we all do, especially in times of transition and times of loneliness. I was in a new town where I felt there was nobody my age, my close friends scattered across different states, not even a job at first. No one to greet me after Mass. No one to get a beer with. I spent college planning my future, and now that I was a college graduate, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I felt as much a stranger to myself as I was to everyone else in town.
We place so much of our identity in other people, in their reactions and responses to us, in whether they take the time to text us or like our status on Facebook. We desire approval more today than ever, and we seek it constantly. So what happens when you’re removed from the reactions of other people and you’re left sitting alone on a bench by the bay with no reaction or encounter except with God?
I’ll tell you what happens. You begin to meet yourself. Because the truth of your personhood is how you are seen in the eyes of God, and it’s never more revealed to you than when you take time to leave everyone else in the world and to ask him who you are. I thought I was alone when I moved to St. Augustine in August, but what I really had was the most intimate time with God I'll probably ever now, and it’s revealed several things about who I am that I never really saw.
1. You are a body.
I am made in the image and likeness of God, not just internally, but externally. I have a human body that’s capable of just about anything, and for a long time, I didn’t see it. And because I didn’t see it, I didn’t care about it. But then I really saw my body for the first time. I found health, which is more than just being skinny, and beauty, which is more than just clear skin. I realized that if I took care of my body by devoting time to it, I could use it to glorify God. I could honor his creation by polishing it the same way I’d polish a precious ring. I lifted weights to see how strong I could be. I ran. I ran a LOT. And not just on a treadmill. I ran through fields, past churches, by the water, smiling at passersby. I’m making myself stronger. But apart from being strong, I’m beautiful. And my body isn’t beautiful because I’m in shape, but because I was created different than anyone else. I have green eyes that no one else has, and they’re BIG. I have full lips. I have a really nice smile. My cheeks get flushed when I run and it’s beautiful that there’s blood running through my entire body. Seeing how I was created makes me want to thank God by doing everything I can to take care of the gift of my body.
2. You are a soul, and a good one at that.
I am not a bad person. I am a good person, which has been a hard thing for me to come to terms with and a hard thing for me to see. I have a beautiful soul inside and out. I’m beautiful because I desire good things like holiness and truth. I desire to improve myself, to be a source of joy for others rather than a source of suffering. But I’m also a beautiful soul because I’m a human soul. I fall short, I make mistakes, I drop the cross every now and then. I suffer. Sometimes I don’t even get up. I just lay there in my own self-loathing, and even then - when I’m completely failing at life – my soul is still beautiful to God. He loves me even when I give up on everything. If he loves me that greatly, then why should I ever dishonor his love for me by drowning in shame when I say something stupid or do something embarrassing or sin on an unprecedented level. Those feelings of shame and guilt and self-loathing are a lie. We know the truth, we know God loves our souls, so why would we acknowledge a lie when God’s vision of us is our absolute identity.
3. You are a woman.
I have a feminine body and soul and that makes me a woman. It’s revealed throughout my entire being. Externally, I have all the physical assemblage of a woman. I started as a little girl with long hair, toothy grin, and a high pitched voice. My body is physically ready for serving others. With the help of a husband, my body is capable of building a child. I have a place to make a child, to grow a child, to carry a child, and all the things around that space to keep that child comfortable. My body can feed a child. My arms can offer a gentler embrace than a man and hold people close to me, and yet I’m petite in a way that I can be held by others. And just as I was created physically a woman, I was created with an identical soul. Internally, I have the heart of a wife and mother even in my singlehood. I already belong to my eternal spouse, Jesus Christ. I’m his. I love him, I desire him, I would suffer for him, and he would do the same for me. I’m vulnerable and emotional. I’m occasionally paranoid and I talk way too much. I want to be protected. I want someone to fight for me. But I also want to give myself over to others: To Christ, to my future spouse and children, my family, my friends, people on the street. I want to serve in a way that could never be slavery because I’m happy to do it. And my womanhood – it’s imprinted on me for eternity. I will always be a woman.
4. You are loved.
I am loved body and soul already, even though it’s hard for me to see it sometimes. I have friends who take the time to visit me and talk to me. People who actually WANT to hang out with me (can you believe it?). My family loves me and provides for me every day. Especially my parents who always have and always will sacrifice even when there is nothing for them to gain (that’s the nature of the love of parents for their children). People know who I am, and generally have a good impression of me. When people have a bad impression of me, I can’t be angry at them because the impression they have is a lie. If they saw the truth, the truth of God’s vision of me, then they couldn’t have a bad impression of me. They could only love me. But I can pray that these people see who I am, and pray that I don’t see other people the same way they do.
5. You were made for greatness.
There’s a story unfolding at every second of every day. I’m drawing closer to something at every moment. Whether it’s a death, a birth, a new friendship, an insufferable trial, an exciting triumph, an immense love – I am always becoming great because I was designed for that by God. I am only great because God makes me great, and the story of my life that we are writing together is the greatest story I’ll ever know. I shouldn’t live in worry or waiting or remembering. I should live in the present, for the future. Love today because my future is unfolding. I can be holy. I can be a saint. The more I become aware of all the things in the present that can lead me to that, all the choices I make right now, the greater I will become for the sake of God.
Head over to Morgan's... you can get your link-up on at her place.
After getting some of your feedback, we have decided to give you the topics for the next 4 weeks NOW, so you can plan your posts! Again, you don't have to participate in all of them, but for those who like to plan ahead, we hope this will be helpful!
NEXT WEEK 7/23:
Is it possible to be "just friends" with a guy?
(ha, sounds so academic! But, all the books, music, devotionals, etc that you LOVE and keep you close to the Lord!)
Envy and Singlehood
(this interpretation is up to you!)
(Ok, so... you think you are called to marriage? What have you done to help with that? Go to a young adults activity! Sign up for CatholicMatch.com! Something that allows you to take an active step towards meeting your hubby. Praying is important, but God isn't just going to plop him in our laps for us, we have to do our part, too!
Or, feel the religious life is your thing? What about reaching out to a community you're interested in? Go on a retreat with them! Have coffee with a sister from another community! Same goes for you ladies... pray, yes. But, it's important to be active in your search for God's will.
SO... on 8/13 tell us what you did! How'd it go? Did that help motivate you to do more?
What's a community without challenging each other?? Can't wait to hear about it!)
BUT, but, but... we still would REALLY like your ideas for more topics! Morgan and I have said that WE have a lot of topics WE would like to talk about, but WE are NOT ALL OF YOU! The "we" really needs to include all of us. We are in this together. Yes, we are hosting the linkup, but we really want everyone to be involved. Please email us or comment on our posts about things you would like to discuss. Anything from the silly to the really serious. Whatever you find that is on your heart, something you normally discuss with your girlfriends, etc, there might be someone else who wants to chat about that, too! So, let us know!!
And... as always... if you happen to stumble upon this blog and are NOT single and want to participate, PLEASE DO (ahem... Kristin and Martha)! We would LOVE to have your perspectives, as well. Don't be shy!
Thanks so much, ladies.
Oh, and can you say a few extra prayers for me? I kinda had a rough weekend... and am still feeling blah. That would be super helpful! :)
Hugs and blessings!