By Nicole Wulk
“Your arms, My Jesus, are the elevator which will take me up to Heaven…”- St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
In today's readings I am reminded that God calls me to live to a higher standard; to live with purpose and intention for His glory...I am reminded that I am called to be my best self for Him, to treat others as He would, to exercise patience, love and understanding... but I am also reminded of how often I fall short.
"Choose what is right, do what is just, for my salvation is about to come, my justice is about to be revealed." -IS 56:1
The first reading discusses this higher standard of living, which involves loving God, honoring the Sabbath, making offerings and sacrifices but this higher standard of living that we are striving for is more than just that. This higher standard of living overflows into each day; it is the little or big struggles that prevent me from being my best self.
What does that look like? For me, it means overcoming my instinct of impatience with people or circumstances and responding with kindness. It means being respectful when I get frustrated or hurt. It means stopping myself before I go for that third serving of cookies. It means choosing almonds instead of potato chips. It means deciding not to "talk" to the cute guy giving me attention, when I know it will prevent me from living a life of integrity for God and myself.
While these struggles may seem little, they are still areas where I fall short.
They are struggles that I know I can improve to on to be a better reflection of Him. Today I am reminded of how grateful I am to have a God who is merciful. I am grateful to have a Father who tells me to put my struggles on the altar and offer them up for His glory, even when I fail.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, infamous for the insights of her "Little Way" of holiness, reminds me of my weakness, my littleness and my sinfulness but, she also reminds me of God's mercy. Does He call me to live to a higher standard? Yes, but, since He is a merciful Father, even when I fail, I can invite Him into my life to help me.
When I put my sins and struggles on the altar, He can transform them.
He can pick up the pieces and tell me to try again tomorrow. So I continue on my journey to Him; I try to do my best each day and allow God to make up for my failures, because through Jesus, He already did.
The image of Divine Mercy comes to mind when I reflect on the Gospel. The Canaanite woman said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."
Jesus healed this woman's daughter. As a Canaanite, this woman faced her own struggles, as I face mine. She did not live this "perfect" life; she too had weakness, littleness and sinfulness, but Jesus still healed her daughter. Jesus still decided that she was worthy of His mercy. Jesus sees everyone as worthy.
I am worthy, even when I fail, because if I improve my ability to be patient or exhibit more self-control with food, it is not because I am good, but because He is good. It is not because of my strength, but because of His strength.
Today, God calls me to trust that He can transform the areas of my life where I keep failing. He reminds me that He will give me the strength to keep trying. When I let Him in, He will make me the saint that He calls me to be.
Jesus, I trust in You.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole is a speech language pathologist living in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio . After receiving her undergraduate from Miami University, she obtained her master’s from The University of Toledo. She is most passionate about God and living out her faith in the context of everyday life. Nicole enjoys teaching PSR and volunteering with youth ministry. She has many favorite saint “friends”, but identifies most with St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She loves to “nerd out” on religious readings and podcasts, work/play with her students, spend time with her family and friends, workout and laugh until she cries.