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My Life’s a Mess and I Love It.

My life’s a mess and I love it.

This summer I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a summer missionary at Camp Hidden Lake. Because I had gone to camp four times as a camper, I thought I knew exactly what to expect – I would come, make amazing friends, fall more in love with Jesus, and leave overflowing with joy. While all of this held true, God used my time serving as a missionary to change my heart in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

In high school, I took pride in being a perfectionist. I wanted to be the best at everything – the smartest student, the cutest relationship, the ideal body – and all of it was to lift up myself. Through my perfectionism, I made my image into an idol and everything I did was for my own greatness, not for the greatness of God. Idolizing myself led me to turn my back on God and glorify myself.

Out of His unending love and mercy, Christ called me back to Him when I went to college. Then, my perfectionism transformed into wanting to be the perfect Catholic, or at least appear to be. I wanted everyone to view me as being a good, holy girl and I hid my sins and insecurities behind a veil of piety.

When I arrived at camp, Christ began to break down all the walls I had placed around my heart due to my perfectionism. Over the course of six weeks, He flipped my life upside down and taught me to completely relinquish control to Him.

After years of idolizing my looks and believing that my beauty as based off of the cuteness of my outfit and the shade of my lipstick, learning to glorify God through my imperfections was one of the greatest lessons Christ taught me as a missionary. Through prayer, He taught me how much my obsession with attaining the perfect image was preventing me to be authentic and fully united with Him. To conquer this, He called me to fast from makeup. While there were some days when I wanted nothing more than to cover up the dark circles under my eyes with some concealer, by resisting the temptation to break my fast, Christ sanctified me and I grew immensely. He taught me that beauty is not from having a “perfect” appearance but from having His love within me.

“Since loves grows within you so beauty grows, for love is the beauty of the soul.” – St. Augustine

By realizing that Christ dwells within me, I was able to recognize my true beauty, whether I’m in my Sunday best or covered in mud during the messy games.
In college, I hid behind a false shield of holiness. I was ashamed of my sins and insecurities and feared that if people knew about my struggles that they would judge me or think that I’m unworthy of God’s love. I thought that if people believed I was the perfect Catholic that I would become one.

Within three days of being a missionary, Christ tore down this wall. During adoration, I was reading Luke 7 and praying with the pardoning of the sinful woman. Much like the woman, I sat at the feet of Christ and begged Him for forgiveness. He called me out of my shame and into His light and He overwhelmed me with love and mercy. In this moment, He taught me that my past sins do not define me, that I can receive forgiveness for them through Reconciliation. By recognizing my sins and handing them over to Him, I am glorifying Him by relying on His mercy.

He told me that I do not need to be the perfect Catholic, I just need to be His.

“So, whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, the new things have come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17

My missionary brothers and sisters probably heard me say “my life’s a mess and I love it,” at least 700 times this summer but it truly became my prayer. By embracing the messiness of life and handing it all over to Christ, He healed me of my struggles with perfectionism. Rather than striving for perfection, Jesus taught me to praise Him by striving for sainthood. God taught me to glorify Him in all aspects of my life, from my studies to my self-image. My life truly is a beautiful mess and I love it because it belongs to God.

About the Author

Catherine Caldwell

I’m a sophomore studying Religion and Psychology at the University of Florida in the beautiful Sunshine State. I love ice cream, dogs, cheesy puns, and smiling. I have a knack for making impulsive decisions, like cooking mac and cheese at 1 in the morning or buying cardboard cut-outs of Elvis, but the best decision I ever made was to live my life for Christ. Mama Mary and St. Maria Goretti are my best friends and I’m passionately in love with Jesus. He gave His life up for me and now I want to do the same by glorifying Him in all that I do!