As a human being, I am used to striving for things, accomplishing things, and getting things done. It’s part of our lives in the world. I loved being in college and working hard. I miss writing papers. I like “To Do” lists, and feeling as if I have accomplished something at the end of the day. It sometimes feels as if good grades, a bunch of check marks on a list, or a full schedule can be like physical, tangible evidence of my self-worth. This becomes a problem for me when it comes to God’s love. It’s hard for me to think about just receiving His love. It seems backwards to me that I don’t have to do anything specific to make it happen. It’s strange that His love is a free gift.
I tend to experience many days where I walk around feeling all kinds of pressure to be a good missionary (whatever that means), or even just a good Christian. It’s almost as if there is a checklist in my mind of things that classify me as having fulfilled God’s will. Did I pray over someone? Did I pray my rosary? Did I say something wise that brought someone else to conversion? Did I start a conversation with a stranger? It’s as if someone has told me that I need to prove to myself, others, or the Lord that I’m not failing at this whole thing. One thing I’m thankful for is that this is just a feeling, and not actually truth.
While I was praying the other morning, I had one of those moments where something that I’ve heard a hundred times finally clicks in my head and my heart. I’ve heard hundreds of times that my worth is not in what I do. I know God’s love does not depend on whether or not I am a “good missionary”, and yet most days I live as if I am trying to earn His love. Did I accomplish this, this, and this, without failing in some area? As if “failure” means that God loves me less (Which it doesn’t!). Sometimes I even put off going to confession because I’m afraid that I won’t do it well (Can you really fail at repentance? I don’t think so…).
Basically, what I came away with from my prayer time was the incredible relief that all I have to focus on is being a daughter of God. I know it sounds cliché, but I also know that the Lord can always take us deeper into truths like this. The truth is that if I focus on being a daughter of God, I am able to live my life with a much deeper sense of freedom. I can let go of my fear of failing, and of my desire to have tangible proof of my achievements, and just belong to the Lord. As God’s daughter, He loves me regardless of my mistakes, my accomplishments, my flaws, my shortcomings, my strengths, gifts, weaknesses and failures. He already knows where my weaknesses are. He even loves my weaknesses, because He created them in me. The really beautiful part is that the places where I fall short are also the places that I get to rely on Him more to be my strength. God does not require that I be a “good missionary”. He does not require that I be able to check things off of my religious list at the end of the day. I don’t have to achieve anything to prove to Him that I am good enough. He requires only that I be His daughter – and the only expectation in that is to receive His love. So every day when I start thinking about this pressure that I feel to be good, holy, and perfect, I am trying to let that go and replace it with the simple pressure to let God love me – which is really not a pressure at all, but actually a huge, incredible gift.