“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” I find these words from Saint Catherine of Siena to be comforting, inviting, and challenging. While it is comforting to rest in the belief that God, who is the source of my Being, accepts and loves me unconditionally, I find this journey of self-discovery is hard work. What I find challenging is abandoning who I think I should be or who others want me to be. This journey of self-discovery, of becoming who I am meant to be, is a faith journey, a journey of courage, of letting go of fears, and being open to new revelations, new experiences that bring me to a greater appreciation of this life, living it with passion and purpose as God’s beloved.
Discovering who we are is a profound and sacred journey, a journey that unfolds and changes over time. Our search to answer “Who am I?” is connected to the deeper question of “Who is God?” As David Benner notes in The Gift of Being Yourself, “both God and self are most fully known in relationship to each other.” He explains that “there is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God. Hence, to know God is to know self and to know self is to know God. Or, as St. Augustine prayed, “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.”
We are continually discovering who we are and who God is. We are not static beings. We are always changing in one way or another because our experiences—our joys and sorrows– transform us. We are often at crossroads between choosing one direction or another, one path or another. Whether we decide to follow a familiar path or an uncertain path, our choices reveal who we are and who we will become.
In the biblical story of Ruth, we see the dilemma of three women—Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah–having to choose which life-altering path to take upon the loss of their husbands soon after moving from Bethlehem to Moab. Orpah chooses to stay in Moab and do what is expected of her as a woman—to marry again and conform to cultural norms. Ruth and Naomi, on the other hand, decide to return to an uncertain future in Bethlehem, and opt not to marry and rely on a man to care for them. These choices put them at odds with their culture, their religion, their country, and their acceptable role in life.
Like Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, our personal journeys often present us with choices of taking the familiar and safe path, or a new and uncertain path. At different times in our lives, we may choose one or the other path—what is expected of us or we can break the chains that keep us from being independent and claiming our own voices, our own uniqueness.
Choices do change us and as Joan Chittister, OSB, states in The Story of Ruth, “like Naomi and Ruth we find not only that life has changed but that we have changed. Then we know with certainty that God is working in our soul.” She also writes that “transformation is the process of coming to wholeness, of growing into the skin of creation in such a way that we become more than we ever thought we could be before we realized that God was our God, too.”
May Ruth, Naomi, and Catherine be your companions and guide you on your journey this day and always.
If you feel God may be calling you to life as a Dominican Sister, give us a call. We’ll be happy to walk with you on this journey of discovery.