Personality tests fascinate me. As soon as I see one, I want to take it to learn all the deets about myself. I’ll take the Enneagram to find out if I’m more of a fun-loving “7”, a success-oriented “3”, or an easygoing “9”. I’ll even trust Buzzfeed to answer pressing questions similar to “What Type of Bread Would I Be During the French Revolution?” Don’t even get me started on Catholic quizzes — if a few clicks of a button can tell me if I’m more of a Dominican or a Carmelite, or who my new saint best friend should be, you better believe I’m clicking away.
These tests are fun and often interesting, but their popularity points to a deeper desire (and need) we all have: to truly know ourselves.
Who am I?
What’s ironic is we’ll never truly discover who we are if we just look within ourselves. By asking, “Who am I?”, we’re almost asking the wrong question. Take it, and turn it into “Whose am I?” As St. Paul said, “You are not your own. For you have been purchased at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
That price is incredibly priceless: the Precious Blood of Christ spilled out for you during His Passion. So any time you start to doubt yourself or wonder what you want from your life, your first glance should always be to the cross. Because it’s in the cross that your identity is truly found.
Who are you, then? As St. John Paul II said, “You are the sum of the Father’s love for you.” You are His, and every part of your life should be reflective of that.
Amazing! But also… now what?
I’m sure you’ve heard that before in some form or fashion. And while you’re thankful for this incredible gift, you might be wondering how to take that knowledge and move forward, especially when it comes to discernment.
First, pray about it. Our identity in Christ and His love for us has so much depth that none of us can ever wholly understand it. But we should try every. single. day. Does that sound like a lot of time for one topic? Well, take it from Mother Teresa, not me. She said, “How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say ‘I love you’? Impossible.”
Take time to be still… even if you only have five minutes. Let Him love you. Gaze upon an image of Him or if you’re able to go to adoration, look right at Him in the Eucharist. Or close your eyes and imagine Him looking at you with all the love that comes from Love Himself. Bask in that love, whether you feel it consoling you or you feel nothing at all. He’s working in your soul, even if you don’t feel anything.
When you pray about Jesus’ immense love for you consistently, you can take it with you into everything. Making decisions becomes less of a burden. Instead of trying to figure out what you want, with all your interests and your ever-changing mind, you can seek what He wants. When we think of God’s Will from our own human perspective, it can seem scary and maybe out-of-touch. When we consider it from the perspective of His love, we know every single bit of it is for our ultimate good. As the closing prayer in the Divine Mercy Chaplet so eloquently states, we should submit ourselves “with great confidence” to His holy Will “which is Love and Mercy itself.”
We also don’t have to worry about making the wrong choices either. We can be confident if we simply take the next step forward, striving to cooperate with His grace, He will direct our paths, whether He’s silent and lets us continue forward, closes a door so we have to change course, or places a longing in our hearts for a different direction.
I’m praying. What next?
Besides praying DAILY, remain in a state of grace. If you fall, get to Confession quickly. As you make decisions and learn more about yourself and your calling, you want to give the Holy Spirit as much room to work as possible. Don’t let serious sin cloud your ability to hear Him.
As you prepare to discern college, career paths, relationships, and/or religious vocations, you can start figuring out more about yourself, remembering to seek this self-knowledge in the light of God’s love and through prayer.
Pope Francis provides good questions we can ask ourselves to start this project of self-knowledge in Christus Vivit (meaning “Christ is Alive”), an exhortation for young people. He says, “We need to ask: Do I know myself, quite apart from my illusions and emotions? Do I know what brings joy or sorrow to my heart? What are my strengths and weaknesses?”
The pope continues, “Of course, you are for God. But he has decided that you should also be for others, and he has given you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but to share with those around you.”
Pope Francis suggests your prayer can then become, “How can I serve people better and prove most helpful to our world and to the Church? What is my real place in this world? What can I offer to society? Even more realistic questions then follow: Do I have the abilities needed to offer this kind of service? Could I develop those abilities?”
You don’t have to know it all now.
That’s a lot of questioning! And that’s just a starting place. Pope Francis didn’t give these suggestions to overwhelm you. He’s helping you to prepare for the future so that when the time to change direction comes, you’ll have an idea of where the Lord might be calling and where you’d be most fulfilled.
But for the time being, keep doing your daily tasks and pursuing your passions, striving to live in the present. Don’t get so caught up in trying to figure out the future and who you are that you don’t let Whose you are direct your steps.
Jesus never gives us all the answers at once. Look at His own mother! After Mary accepted motherhood to God Himself, the literal next line is “Then the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38). Can you imagine receiving such news and then getting no more instructions? But Mary didn’t keep her life on hold or let confusion paralyze her. She kept moving forward, setting out “in haste” to do what she felt she should next (Luke 1:39).
Throughout her life, she stayed firm in prayer and continued to reflect over her life and her Son’s in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51), trusting that she belonged to Him and that He would take care of everything. We should do the same, knowing that following the example of our blessed mother and seeking after her Son will lead to the only real fullness and meaning we can find in this life and complete joy and union with them both forever in the next.