Being Your Better Self
Affirmation: Every day I strive to be a “better” version of myself
“God loves me just as I am but He /She loves me too much to leave me there.”
– Quote from a fellow Spiritual Director
Covid 19 has taken its toll on 2020. It’s like God has sent us to our knees. I know He/She has sent me to mine. My prayer list at the end of this year is longer than it has ever been before and several of those prayers revolve around people I know and love who are dealing with this scourge that has infected our whole earth. I am, probably like many of you, trying to listen closely to the messages from the Divine that seem to be coming in even more clearly than previously. This month’s message has been about being the best, or at least the better me possible.
Richard Rohr in his book, The Divine Dance, tells the story of sharing with his spiritual director that he would like to be more like Thomas Merton, the great spiritual guru of the 70’s. His wise director told him he should simply be Richard Rohr. He is an American author with over 50 books to this date, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. PBS has called him “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world.” (Wikipedia) It seems like the advice was well received.
Then in a conversation with my dear friends, we found ourselves looking at our past and comparing our accomplishments to people we admire. Matthew Kelly, the founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute shares in his book, Perfectly Yourself, that his favorite painter is Pablo Picasso. He shares that when Pablo was younger his mother told him, “Pablo if you become a soldier, you will be a general. If you become a priest, you will be the Pope.” Pablo then shares, “I became a painter and I became Pablo Picasso.” Matthew also reminds us that no matter what society tells us about becoming whatever we desire, each of us has been called by God for a very specific reason. We are here for a purpose. We aren’t here to be all things to all people. We are here to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be or at least the better version of ourselves.
I must confess to believing that if I persevere in some endeavor I will eventually accomplish whatever it is I’m trying to master and that I now know that is not true. I am not someone who regrets not trying to learn or do something of interest and over these many years, I have watched myself become the master of mediocrity at many many different skills. I won’t bother to list them all here but trust me, there are many. It’s not like I don’t try and it’s not like I have not invested a lot of time and energy truly believing that if I just hang in there, someday something magical will happen and I will be proficient at my desired talent. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the learning process or the amazing people and perhaps places I have met and visited along the way. I have had many wonderful adventures in the pursuit of my different interests but I must confess, I simply did not have the God given talent to become a “good” fiddler, golfer, foreign linguistic, etc. I think Matthew is right. Some of us are simply suited to some things, designed for specific gifts, than for other. The challenge is discovering those gifts, those gifts that God has bestowed on us to benefit this world. Have you discovered yours? What a wonder to be young and find that “something” and hone that talent. I envy those people but “better late than never.”
The book I am presently reading is Julia Cameron’s, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Her first book, The Artist’s Way, changed my life as I know it did many others. I discovered with the help of some of my dearest friends the gift of creating positive affirmations and of looking for and recognizing synchronicities or as she sometimes calls them, “ah ha moments.” When I began writing morning pages 30 years ago, I discovered something that fed my soul.That quiet time of sitting and writing has helped me develop the discipline to begin every day with prayer, meditation, Bible study and journaling. Within the journaling, I have left my petty concerns and discovered my passions and the joy of this blessed life.
There are times when I wonder if I’m being selfish by taking that sacred time in the morning but then, Elizabeth Fenske presented in her December writings her concept of Unity and Oneness in her daily meditation book, Spiritual Insights for Daily Living and everything fell into place, at least for 2020. She writes, “We forget that what we do about the inner self we also do about the world. No thing is separate from any other thing in the universe. The auric fields, often invisible to our eyes, are all woven together. With everything which happens, we can “feel” ourselves moving toward a deeper sense of the awareness. Often in the stillness we intuitively feel and know the interconnectedness and oneness we share related back to a common ancestry. We are the essence of life, cousin to the star and tigress.” This for me was an “ah ha moment.” My dear departed guide, Valerie Kelly, often reminded me that everything we do, everything we say and think, affects every other person in the world. What a responsibly!!! If I can maintain an attitude of kindness, compassion and generosity within me and for me, I can send those qualities out into this weary exhausted world and to everyone within it. My prayer time is not simply time for me, it’s time for you. The waves of grace and ease, gratitude and compassion, joy and dignity, hope and trust flow out of me and my connection to my Divine family, to my Lord and Savior and blanket all those who have tuned into the same frequency as I and perhaps to those who are simply turning the dial looking for the best station to the guidance about becoming the best version they can be.