Dear Sister in Christ,
I’m still not quite sure what to say. Winnie, Tom, and Sambo are cuddled up on the couch watching me write this to you. It’s interesting that I’m often surprised that people are willing to trust me with their valuables and most prized possessions. In a way, I feel honored. At other times, I feel like shouting a huge warning that I’m not worthy to receive something that is so important and meaningful to someone else.
It’s an ongoing struggle within me that was brought to the surface again today. As you described the dear memories you have of your most beloved stuffed animals, most of all Winnie-the-Pooh, but Tom and Sambo, too, and that you had been giving things away in preparation for entering the religious life, I wasn’t sure what part of the process of making peace with the past and moving forward you had come to and wanted to share with me.
I still feel incredibly humbled that you have felt comfortable and safe enough with me that you’ve shared some of your most difficult struggles, hopes, and desires, along with the many spiritual experiences you’ve had over the years.
Sometimes I’m not sure of the appropriate response when given a gift that has so much sentimental value to the giver. I imagine I looked rather bewildered when you explained the significance of the three well-loved friends you felt led to pass on to me. Obviously, these have been very special treasures for you for a number of years. They’ve caught your tears, been with you in good times and bad, and it is a tremendous sign that you are preparing yourself in mind, body, and spirit to enter the religious life that you are ready to let them go.
This weekend, Fr. Jim gave the homily at St. Michael’s for 5:30pm Mass, and he spoke about the Epiphany, of course. He said that we are called to give God the most precious gift, that which we have been holding back from Him. Anything or anyone that keeps us from the Lord must be sacrificed on the altar in order that we can serve God first and foremost. More and more your treasure has been in doing the Lord’s will.
The material possessions that brought you comfort and held memories for you were evidence of people and circumstances in your past, but the Truth of who you are is at your core and in God’s heart. No thing, no accomplishment, no possession from another person could possibly embody all that is you.
Detachment from things that we’ve felt we’ve needed to cling to in the past in order to remember who we were, what we’d been through, or who cares about us, is a growing process that allows more room in our hearts for God’s love and affection for us.
You have done on some level what parents do with their children, and what God has and will continue doing with you: you have loved what was given to you the whole time they were in your care, then with thought and, eventually, prayer you discerned who should receive your comforting trio. God is doing a similar work in you. He’s loving you completely, though He knows most intimately all of your bumps, bruises, scars, insecurities, fears, and pain.
I understand all too well what you mean about your tendency to dive in head-first. I have often done the same thing, and it has led me to the same place of feeling worn-out, confused, lost, and hurt. Diving into God’s will is the only whole-hearted plunge we know will always bring us closer to Him.
God knew from the time He knit you in your mother’s womb that you would be a very passionate person. By submitting to Him, He will be able to use that for His glory and honor, for the salvation of souls in time and eternity.
One thing that I learned and need to be reminded of is something that Danielle Rose speaks of beautifully in her song “The Saint that Is Just Me” is that God doesn’t want or need for me to be someone else in order to serve Him. He wants me to be the best version of myself, the saint that only I can become.
It has been so easy for me at times to think that God can possibly work in and through me. I figure that I’m too broken and damaged for Him to use me to reach others. That’s what the devil would most like for us to believe, that we are useless and worthless. Those are lies. You are not too old, too broken, too damaged, too anything that God isn’t able to do amazing things in and through you. The world may say that we should have things figured out by a certain age or a certain time in our lives, but those who are wise know that discerning God’s will is a lifelong process.
I’m reminded quite frequently that God’s timing isn’t ours, that what we think should happen or figure would be best often isn’t even close to the amazing blessings and miracles the Lord wishes to shower upon us. He’s got some wonderful plans for your future, and when it’s imperative that you know the details, He’ll let you in on them. In the meantime, just stay close to Christ, remain in love with the Lord, and you will be shown the way.
It’s very important to me that you know that I care deeply about you and that your trust and willingness to be vulnerable with me means a great deal.
I’m not quite finished processing all of this, but I want to send you what I’ve written so far, rather than wait, to let you know that I am indeed touched by your gift.
Love, hugs, and prayers, Trisha
Note to reader: I wrote and sent this note to a dear friend this week, and she gave me her permission to share it on my blog along with the picture of her companions from childhood.