I’m pretty certain that in my very tiny corner of the world, everyone knows that I love St. Mother Teresa and aspire to be her one day. I talk about her, read her books, and quote her often; I’ve hung her picture in my house, and ask her daily to help me learn how to love. So, it came as no small shock and disappointment when I recently heard the Lord clearly telling me:
You will never be Mother Teresa.
I think I literally gasped aloud, and then tried to wait patiently for Jesus to explain. And of course, He did, in a message I’ve taken to heart and want to expound on here.
You will never be Mother Teresa, but you can love Me as no one has ever yet loved Me.
In that moment, I had this profound realization: Why would I want to be a 2nd rate version of someone else, when I can be a 1st rate version of myself?
Now don’t get me wrong; as Christian women, it is not only permissible but advisable to draw our strength, inspiration and encouragement from the cloud of witnesses who walk beside us and have gone before us.
But as women, it seems we constantly look to someone else to tell us who we are, and most often who we are not. We look in the mirror of our lives and think: is what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, enough? We look in the mirror of others’ lives and think: If only I had her looks, body, brain, gifts and talents, her life situation, it goes on and on…then I would be happy, I would be enough, I would truly be ME.
Please join me in admitting that you are tired of living with an underlying anxiety that you are failing, of working way too hard to be someone you’re not, to get it all done…that you are tired of being anxious, afraid, stressed, and disappointed. Let’s stop defining ourselves by what we do, by what we have, by who we are NOT, and choose to define ourselves by the only unchangeable Truth there is, by what matters most in life.
Define yourself as someone who is radically loved by God. Define your value by what you are worth to God. He died for you, which means you are worth everything. You are worth dying for. God loves YOU with the tenderness of a father, the passion of a lover, and the faithfulness of a friend. He loves you as you are—not the person you wish you were or think you should be. As the spiritual author Jacques Philippe says, “God doesn’t love ideal people or virtual people he loves actual, real people. God looks upon you right now and he says, you (put your own name here) are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.
What we all long for is the freedom to know who we are and to simply be that person—not to be the best, the smartest, the cutest, the thriftiest, the skinniest, the prettiest, the richest—not to be anyone else but the unique person God has created each one of us to be.
Let God tell you who you are. And then choose to believe Him. Let Him reveal to you what is unique about you and what is the unique way He is calling you to love Him. Because at the end of our lives when we are called Home, His opinion, approval, acceptance, and His love is all that will matter.
St. Mother Teresa is still my hero, but my goal is no longer to be her, but instead to just be the best 1st rate version of myself, which means to loving God uniquely, as no one has ever yet loved Him.
St. Catherine said: Be who you are created to be and you will set the world on fire.
Let’s get that fire blazing!