Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire” (St. Catherine of Sienna ).
I was once convinced that a good description of me was “free spirit”. At least that’s how people portrayed me. I went with the flow; I blew with the wind. I was Phlegmatic. Whether I was introvert or extrovert is a whole other story, I believed to be a blend of both. If I was with others; Praises God!!!! If I was alone; Praise God!!!! I enjoyed it all.
In short: “[friend calling] Hey, do you want to go for coffee?; [Me working on a project] Sure, give me 10 min.”
But now when I pause and reflect within the deepest recesses of my soul, I find myself asking: “Who Am I, Truly?” I have found a portion of me; one that allows me to respond with a personality. But have I found the whole of me? Can I fully be alive with this unlocked mystery or is there still more mystery to uncover; that of divinity maybe?
Faith and reason go hand in hand, so too biology and divinity go hand in hand. There’s the person with his many faculties intellect, emotions, senses, personality, and all bodily capacities but then there is that side of divinity that needs to be realized; the life of Christ in us. The capacity to become comes from the union of both. It can be said that this becoming is our sanctification. When we put the two together we have a person fully alive because we have a person fully united to God. “Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (CCC 1999).
Therefore, the learning of who we are serves as a means for knowing what we have to offer in our service to God. Christ uses our capacities in order to fulfill them. He takes my friendly self and inserts a divine intervention of love into the use of it. He takes my clumsy ways and attaches a virtue of humility in them while at the same token a virtue of hope in someone else who witnesses my imperfect actions. Christ makes himself available because he wants to unite himself to us; he wants to make us whole. Without Jesus we are a portion of ourselves, the perfection in us is in Him.
Seems we sometimes inundate ourselves with our self. Temperament/personality, it is given to us by God as a mark of unique character. It helps us learn how we best relate, get along, work, rest, etc. In it we find a unique touch of identity. But is it the end all, be all? Can we measure our way of living by it? should we use it alone to discern moments of our life?
I once arrived at a social gathering and was quickly greeted by two scenarios. On one end of the room was an outgoing crowd and on the opposite end was a young man eating some carrots he must have picked up at the buffet line. Instinctively I gravitated toward the social group because I figured “I’m social, their social, together we make totally social”. But deep inside, I looked at the young man and thought “I’m social, he’s totally not social, together we make semi-social.” Now, I have been used to entering into conversation but creating it and sustaining it was not a forte of mine. On his end, he was far from entering in and far from sustaining any form of communication. I realized at that moment that we were both putting our personal traits aside, those that gave us comfort, and united we were stepping out of our comfort zone. Out of our default way of relating.
“Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire” (St. Catherine of Sienna ). We should not place a measure on ourselves according to identity. We were meant to know what our comfort zone is only to surpass it. We are becoming, which means we are growing at every moment; spiritually, emotionally, psychologically. If a child never gets on the bike he will never learn to ride it. Living at the edge of our comfort zone is striving to become wholly the person we were meant to be.
Authentic, unique, one-of-a-kind we are all of these things; not because of character but because we were created by the Creator. when St. Catherine said “be who God made you to be” she did not mean that aside from our identity as children of God. That which is given to us at Baptism. Just as we have personal traits we too have the capacity to respond and to embody our spiritual traits those we call virtues; virtues that come from grace which is the life of Christ in us. So next time we believe we have uncovered our truest self let us remember “for to me life is Christ” (Phil 1:21).
“Grace is a participation In the life of God . . . The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. (CCC 1997, 1999)