I picked up a lovely book my sister sent to me sometime after Stella died. I read it then, but wanted to take another look at it. It's a book on the life and way of St. Therese of Lisieux called "Everything is Grace". As I was flipping through the chapters, chapter 15's title stood out to me - "To Bear with One's Imperfections, That is Real Sanctity". Why does this draw me? Easy. Because I LOATHE MY IMPERFECTIONS!! I torment and beat myself up when they surface. Especially when they surface a thousand times in a single hour. I sulk in them and apologize and beg for forgiveness obsessively. Even to the point, these imperfections steal my joy and sense of duty for the day. And what makes it worse, I know doing this isn't right either, so then it gives me reason to go further into my disgust of self! Twisted. I know. The saints serve as great spiritual advisors. I am so thankful for them! For their example while on earth, and the help they give now in Heaven. Apparently at the time when Therese was at Carmel the younger sisters were raised in a time of perfectionism and Jansenism. (I understand the perfectionism). The sisters would often go to Therese complaining about their flaws a and weaknesses. They would depreciate themselves and even punish themselves. Therese looked and approached her weakness and frailties differently. She experienced grief and repentance but didn't go into self-condemnation. She says "When I commit a fault that makes me sad, I know very well that this sadness is a consequence of my infidelity, but do you believe I remain there? Oh! No, I'm not so foolish! I hasten to say to God: My God, I know I have merited this feeling of sadness, but let me offer it up to you just the same as a trial that You sent me through love. I am sorry for my sin, but I'm happy to have this suffering to offer to you." Corrections in behavior still apply. Another experience when a sister spoke to her about her self-loathing, Therese says:
You make me think of the very little child who starts to hold herself up but does not yet know how to walk. Wanting absolutely to climb to the top of the stairs to find her mother again, she lifts her little foot to finally climb the first step. Useless labor! She always falls without making any advance...Consent to be this little child. Through practicing all the virtues, keep lifting up your little foot in order to clamber up the stairs of holiness. You will not even get to the first rung, but God asks nothing of you except your good will. From the top of the stairs he looks down at you with love. Soon, won over by your ineffective efforts, he will come down himself and, taking you in his arms, he will take you away into his kingdom forever where you will never have to depart from him.
Why is it when things are put into languages of a child it is so easy to understand? To accept, to desire? How can all of a sudden, the things I struggle with within myself look actually endearing and seen as an opportunity to be LOVED!
Therese often talked of running to Jesus' arms after she fell. I love this example she gives, again relating to it as a little child.
Look at a little child who has just annoyed his mother by flying into a temper or by disobeying her. If he hides away in a corner in a sulky mood and if he cries in fear of being punished, his mamma will not pardon him, certainly not his fault. But if he comes to her, holding out his little arms, smiling, and saying: 'Kiss me, I will not do it again,' will his mother be able not to press him to her heart tenderly and forget his childish mischief? ...However, she know her dear little one will do it again on the next occasion, but this does not matter; if he takes her again by her heart, he will not be punished.
No explanation needed. Today, I strive for all of this. Thank you sweet Therese.. The great little saint my daughter dines on the Father's love with. I have often thought of them together. I see them in a beautiful field of tall gold grass with flowers. I see Stella placing flowers in Therese's hair and Therese placing flowers in Stella's curls. They laugh and have giant smiles. They both enjoy the simplicity of love so much. I see them sharing stories of their families and childhood. They take great delight in each other and often talk of their parents whom they both loved immensely.