As a missionary community, we sometimes read spiritual books and delve into the deeper meaning of them together. We recently read Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, and something she said really stuck out to me. Before I tell you what she said, however, I’d like to tell you a little more about myself.
As a teenager, something I really struggled with was my self-image. I was very concerned with how people thought of me and being liked, being considered pretty, etc. I saw celebrities on TV; I saw my friends; I saw Jane Doe walking down the street, and I compared myself to everyone. I always saw my imperfections: I wasn’t skinny enough; I was too skinny; my hair wasn’t right; my clothes weren’t trendy enough. As I got older, my view of myself slowly improved. I managed to stop letting it consume me, and I put it out of my mind.
Lately as a missionary, I’ve been realizing that I still make a lot of comparisons between others and myself. It’s still something I struggle with, though not like I did when I was younger. I’ve been learning how important it is to see the beauty that God has given me as an individual, as His daughter whom He created. You can just imagine how it struck me when I read the following quote by St. Therese:
“He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.”
I absolutely love flowers, but I myself have never been so impressed by roses. They are beautiful, to be sure, but I would always prefer a bouquet of tulips or wildflowers over roses. This quote did not magically make all my self comparisons go away, but it really helped me to see things from God’s perspective a bit more.
St. Therese goes on to say, “Perfection consists in doing God’s will, in being what He wills us to be.” I know I will never be perfect in the eyes of the world, but this is a perfection that I can aspire to. I can set my goals on being who God created me to be, and how comforting is it to know that I can aim for perfection, even if it is not a worldly perfection.
Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to Megan Fox or Emma Stone, take a step back and remember that God made us with more beauty and diversity than the flowers, and the world wouldn’t be as beautiful if you weren’t you.