Learning to be Little.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Photo by Mecedes Kallo on Unsplash

You'd think that someone who tops out at all of five feet and two inches would have a pretty decent handle on being little.

Alas, I am only just beginning to learn what littleness entails.

I find that I can sometimes be a bit Hermione Granger-y about the spiritual life. I immerse myself in spiritual reading by renowned saints, listen to a lot of Catholic Podcasts, and spend an hour in Adoration every week. That last in particular has me envisioning God chuckling, as I bring a slew of different things to do during my weekly Holy Hour -- Bible, journal, Spotify worship playlist, devotional, spiritual reading, Rosary, papal encyclicals...

It's more than any reasonable person could seek to do in an hour, but, you know, I want to do it right. I want to pray the most deeply. I want that intimate union with God. I want to be awash in His grace.

...And so I need to be prepared with backup options in case the psalm I choose to meditate on that day falls flat, or maybe my favorite Audrey Assad jam isn't speaking to me the way it usually does (I actually don't, but persistence in prayer is a topic for another day).

The point is that I get caught up in trying so hard to be holy. Self-help junkie and perfectionist that I am, I try to get there on my own.

Instead of letting God work gently, quietly, slowly in me.

I think that maybe if I just learn enough about the faith, if I master all the steps... someday I'll be perfect.

My spiritual director, Sister Hope, shook her head and staved off a smile when I told her this last night. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That's not how it works."

No? I waited eagerly for her to tell me what the real secret was, then. 

"We forget that when we pray," she said, placing a hand over her heart, "God does the work."

It sounded so good, the way she said it. And I imagine it would be freeing to take some of that pressure off of myself -- to say to God, "Okay, Lord, I'll just promise to show up. You do the heavylifting!"

I know He wants to.

But then, what exactly does it mean to just "show up"?

Sister Hope had an answer for that, too, drawn from the wisdom of St. Thérèse and her little way:

"Just be who you are before the Father, in your littleness."

I've been mulling this over since our meeting last night, and here's a working set of guidelines I've assembled for "becoming little" and "being who I am before God" -- because old habits (and list-makers and step followers) die hard, apparently:

Be broken. Let God mend the cracks with His abundant mercy. 
Be bold.
Be honest.
Be unashamed. 
Practice humility, remembering in gratitude the God who freely created us out of His own generous, life-giving heart.
Trust that God is doing the hard work of building something better with every brick of your heavily-laden heart that you surrender to Him.

And then, finally, rest in His love for you -- right now, exactly as you are.

You are enough, and You are loved.

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