"The very act of willpower even directed toward sanctity, she [St. Therese] understood, could be tainted by self-love that could drive her to try to make herself the saint she wanted to be rather than allowing God to make her the saint she was created to be. She recognized that in use of her willpower she could sometimes be self-serving or even violent to herself or others in her efforts to be good. She was beginning to glimpse that holiness while needing her cooperation, was really a matter of God's doing."
This is a passage from a book on Therese of Lisieux called, "Everything is Grace". I read this part the other night and can't stop thinking about is because I saw my own struggles. A couple of things in particular touched and convicted me. How tender and merciful God is. When He wants to illumine our soul of its errors, He is gentle if we are of a willing and have open heart. He points out the error and then offers help and hope. If one feels shame or defensive, that is a matter of oneself, not from Jesus. For God is a good father with the tender heart of a mother. As long as we are open and responsive, His direction is clear, soft, and piercingly truthful. The soul knows when it is asked to progess in an area.
The word "self-love" screams at me. I see as I read that passage about Therese how much self-love I have!! I can think of times when I was a child where acts of self love arose clearly - tantrums, hitting my sister, or simply being stubborn. However, I think of myself as an adult taking care of others and putting my needs further down on the list, I guess I thought my self love has diminished greatly. I believe it has, but self love is so big that even when it is diminished greatly, what is left, remains large. How cunning is the flesh! Or maybe I should say, how foolish. I see how my self love conitnues to arise in not what I lack to DO, but in the attitude I do it in. It can be so deeply rooted that even when my desire is to become holy, the love of self can mask itself in righteousness and sanctification. I must pose the same question to myself, "Am I becoming the saint I want to be, or the saint God created me to be?" That is a poignant question with a baffling answer if I look at myself with truth. I think - both. I know I'm on the right path to the sanctification God has called me to, however I am sure the methods of travel are influenced to often by selfishness. That no matter how much I want to be good, those efforts are often tainted with self love, or the lack of LOVE I put into such actions. I write these words with thankful conviction, but not crushing despair. For as Therese realized, although holiness and sanctity do need cooperation it is God's work and I mush remind myself of her famous words - EVERYTHING is grace. How much hope there is for my soul, for as my soul is the boat on life's mysterious and treacherous waters, God is no only it's seasoned captain, but the One who made and placed the waters there to begin with.
**On a side note, I think of how Therese was known for her words -everything is grace. I thought if there was a book written about me I could narrow the title down to three options - "Time to Eat", "Stop Touching Her", or "Shhh...Mommy Needs Her Rest." Not quite as inspiring, but a bit comical.
***I realized I hadn't told a story recently of heaven. On All Saints Day, someone gave me a rose from Stella. She told me she saw Stella with her soul's eye and she had a white rose to give to me. However, when the person went to the store to get a white rose there were none! She asked the florist and she told her because of All Saints Day all the white roses were gone. So the person saw a white rose with just a touch of pink on the very tips of the petals. She prayed and asked, "Lord, Stella, what should I do?" She heard the words, "Tell my mom the the pink is from where I kissed it." I thought it was a precious gift. However, two days later I moved the long stem rose from one table to the little side table by my bed. I've been using Stella's side table from her room. It was from Shabby Chic (Chique?). I got her the side table and matching mirror. It is white iron with white roses. However at some point when I redid Stella's room, I wanted more color so I paint the very tips of the petals pink on her table and mirror. When I place the rose on the table I realized they matched perfectly. Only heaven could have planned that!