Why did God create you? Do you ever think about that? I do.
Many years ago while on retreat, I wrote across the top of the first page of my journal: Dear God, what is my purpose in life? Who am I supposed to be?
I prayed all weekend for an answer, bringing my question continually before the Lord. But I never heard an answer…and I was somewhat disappointed.
But, now years later, I realize that I didn’t hear the answer because I was listening for the wrong kind of answer. I wanted something specific and concrete. I wanted to leave my retreat with a plan…maybe even a list which I could check off. Here is what God has sent me to do. Here is how I will make a difference in the world. I wanted a mission.
But as the years passed, and life moved on with its sorrows and its joys, I began to hear the answer I sought. It is always the same, and it takes root deeper and deeper in my heart, and the joy it imparts is a reassuring certainty.
Today, I heard a young woman describe her very first visit to the Eucharistic Adoration chapel in her parish.
She went in, not knowing what to expect. And to her amazement, she saw a type of vision…one which arose within her imagination. She saw a large tree and beneath it she was seated with Jesus. To her great surprise, Jesus carved His initials and hers in the tree, and then He drew a heart around it.
He looked at her so tenderly and told her, “You could never understand how very much I love you. Fall in love with Me. I so much want you to fall in love with Me.”
Then she went on to say that God always knows just what we need to hear, and the way we need to hear it.
And, I understood. So many times in the adoration chapel, I have had a similar “vision,” only in mine, I am a little girl, all dressed up with ribbons in her hair, and I am snuggled in the arms of Jesus, or sometimes standing on his lap, looking into His eyes, or hugging His neck so tight. And….I am so very peaceful, both in the scene, and as I quietly sit there being loved.
Getting out of the car, after hearing the young woman’s encounter with Jesus, I looked up at the blue sky and the trees in their tender spring leaves. I listened to the bird songs of some cardinals nearby. I gazed at all of this and with wide-eyed wonder, marveled that the God Who had created it all, and Who sustains a world teeming with life and beauty, would so love me, and you….would so love us above all of His material creation combined. Yet, I know that He does…because He told us so.
This is the answer I have been hearing for so long…in the quiet of the adoration chapel, in the writings of the mystics, in the longing of my heart which nothing on earth can fill. The answer is the echo in the restlessness of my soul which yearns to be totally accepted, completely understood, unconditionally loved. The answer is in my quest to rest in ravishing Beauty which will never fade, never end.
Yes, God answered my question on that retreat so long ago, but His answer was too wonderful, too beautiful, too perfect for me to hear at the time. But He has repeated it over and over until at last I began to listen:
I created you so that I could love you. And, I made you in My Own Image and Likeness so that your soul would be so beautiful in its resemblance of Me, that I would thirst for you to love Me in return.
It is really that simple. We were created for Love. God is always loving us, always giving Himself to us, never turning His gaze from His beloved. And we, at every moment, can be loving Him in return, whether in thought or deed or absence of malice.
And we can grow, moment by moment, in that love for Him…the more we forgive, the more we give, the more we forget ourselves….always inviting Him to refine His Image more visibly within our souls.
O Jesus, what a glorious “mission!” What a sublime purpose for my life….to be Your Heart’s desire! Teach me to surrender myself to Your Love….and grant that I may love You in return by doing all that I can to imitate You. Amen.
“Jesus make me resemble You…” prayed St. Therese.
“For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight. So then, what do you think that abode will be like where a King so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of all good things takes His delight? I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity. Indeed, out intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God; but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness.”
The Interior Castle, Study Edition: pp. 33-34, nos. 83-84.
St. Teresa of Avila
(a personal favorite from the archives, as we await Corpus Christi Sunday)