In the wake of the Royal Wedding, I find myself most drawn to the Bishop of London’s speech, and specifically the quote from St. Catherine of Siena:
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
How often do we go through life attempting to be what we think we are supposed to be, but not who we are inside? I know I am guilty of doing this. I have spent many years of my life trying to figure out what others wanted from me, and how to go about fulfilling their needs. I don’t think I’m alone. We live in a society in which we are told what is sexy, desirable, good, bad, ugly, worthy, strong, weak, and on and on. I use the word “told” quite deliberately, because I think it’s more than just being taught. There is a second-level dialogue going on that is telling us these things, in addition to the surface dialogue we see everyday in advertisements, etc. I say that because the second-level dialogue is within our own minds. We are being told these things by ourselves.
Think about that for a minute.
When we see a picture of a happy beautiful woman, who is thin, has long wavy hair, perfect make-up, is carrying luxury merchandise, and is adored by handsome men — what is the dialogue we are creating in our own minds? That image goes well beyond teaching us that in order to “have” these things and be happy (the luxury and the men), we need to meet this physical criteria. It goes beyond because we internalize what we’ve seen into a value system in our own life and mind.
So – how do we change this second-level dialogue? How do we adjust our value-meter to come into accordance with WHO we are and who God meant us to be? I wish I could wave a magic wand and that would be enough – and in a way, it is. However, each of us has our own magic wand and no wand can be used for another person. That’s the tricky part. We each have to learn to hear that internal dialogue, and gauge for ourselves whether it has a place in our own life. If it does, then fine. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to replace it. It’s not enough to let go of it – it has to be replaced. And we replace things through deliberate action. I won’t say this is “easy” to do – but it’s not impossible. The most important thing is to ask the question and become aware. From there, it gets easier.
That brings me back to St. Catherine — we all have a role to play in this life. God (or the Universe, whatever you’re comfortable with) knows this role, and patiently waits for us to remember it. We are given many opportunities to remember who we are throughout our lifetime. When we do, life seems to be filled with joy, love and hope. When we stray, we face our challenges and lessons (opportunities). The reason for this is to help us remember. The struggles are the opportunities. When we overcome our obstacles, we reinforce that memory of who we are. So that one day we will no longer need to remember — we will simply, be.