At different points in life, we ask some version of the question: Who am I called to be? (Maybe it sounds more like: What am I supposed to do? or Who am I?)
Often times this question percolates around transition or when we experience unrest with our status quo. It is one of my hopes that in ministering to high schoolers, I can help them move through asking, What is the best college can I get into? or What is the most high paying career? and into Who was I created to be? Who is God calling me to be?
I recently finished a book by Fr. James Martin, SJ called Becoming Who You Are. It has stirred these questions of calling within me again, and I’m very grateful.
Throughout the short book, Martin quotes Trappist monk and Catholic convert, Thomas Merton, who says, “For me to be a saint means for me to be myself.”
Maybe this quote seems irrelevant or even off-putting if you don’t want to be a saint. Maybe, though, this quote calls us to reexamine what it means to be a saint, and how striving for sainthood is actually an invitation to freedom, joy, confidence, and peace.
“For me to be a saint means for me to be myself.”
Honestly, what a relief. To be a saint, to be holy, God isn’t asking me to be boring, or a stone statue, or be on my knees praying 24/7 (unless that is actually your calling, then go you!).
To be a saint means for me to discover who I am before God, to love and embrace who I am before God, and to have the courage to be that person.
But how do we know who we are before God? Is that different from who I am before my friends, family or colleagues at work?
Henri Nouwen provides markers for distinguishing the true self from the false self. Nouwen was himself a well-known academic, speaker, writer, and priest, who struggled with his desire for fame and the praise of others. He writes beautifully and honestly on woundedness in life.
Disbarring our illusions and offering us a new reality, Nouwen proposes, “We are not what we do, we are not what we have, we are not what others think of us. Coming home is claiming the truth. I am the beloved child of a loving creator.”
So you mean I’m not defined by my title at work? Or my possessions that I’ve worked so hard for? Or even my reputation? (This last one is the hardest for me.)
We are much more than these. As Franciscan priest and spiritual guide, Richard Rohr says, “Once you learn to live as your true self, you can never be satisfied with this charade again: it then feels so silly and superficial.”
If it has been a while, ask yourself, Who is God calling me to be? Who has God created me to be? I think we could ask this of ourselves many times a day, and God would speak to us in new ways. I also think that asking this question requires courage, because God often calls us to far greater things than we imagine for ourselves.
I am Caitlan Rangel. Made uniquely and wonderfully by God. Loved deeply and beyond comprehension by God. I am a mother who has the privilege of being comforter, educator, dance partner, encourager, and endless embracer to my children. My children who love me and also test my patience, battle my selfishness, and tear down my pride. I am a wife who loves her husband deeply and truly. I also fall short of loving my husband as attentively and freely as I hope to. I am a daughter only beginning to know her parents’ sacrifice and love for her. I am a gifted minister to high schoolers who also experiences doubt if I practice what I preach enough. I find new life in my garden, in the Eucharist, in practicing yoga, in taking showers, in quiet prayer with my coffee, and in being outside. Sometimes I have a hard time just resting and enjoying life, one of my biggest barriers to knowing God. I enjoy the routine and comfort of where I live, and also have a quiet dream of leaving it behind to live simply and serve the poor. I believe that God is calling me, and I desire to do a better job of listening.