Learning to know ourselves
“We can learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.” St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa is one of the most alluring and venerated saints of the Catholic tradition (ours holds her to be a saint, as well). She was an incredible writer, reformer of the Carmelite Order (nuns), and (since 1970) a “Doctor of the Church.” But perhaps she should be best known for her humility. She asks us, in our own lives, to emulate Christ who “humbled himself…and was obedient even to death, death of a Cross” Philippians 4. Humility is a difficult concept for us that we sometimes confuse with self-doubt, self-hatred, unworthiness, and generally being down on who we are. Humility, in its best and holiest sense, simply means we understand that we are far from perfect and need God’s blessing, guidance, and forgiveness. We are called, in Christ, to surrender all that we are and hope to be to God. Understanding that we are held by God’s incredible love and grace makes surrender and acceptance of God’s will holy and much to be desired, even if not terribly easy.
We had a wonderful first session this past Monday in our Preparing to Become Beloved Community conversations on racial healing, justice and reconciliation. One of the necessities of entering into difficult conversations, in the end, is humility; giving ourselves over to God and trusting that He will care for and lead us. Our humility comes from a place – if any place at all – of deep gratitude, trust, and hope. Knowing that God will take care of us and that we need God’s presence, as we try to see how others suffer and are challenged by racism and a system of inequities, will see us to a new and more hopeful place in our country and world. Knowing ourselves better and doing what we can to grow and help, as St. Teresa asks, is part of our Christian journey and a small part of seeing others as God sees them and us: as beloved.