Therese Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in the latter half of the 19th century. Although she lived a very short life, dying at 24 from tuberculosis, the writings she left behind about flowers are compelling and influential in church thought. As Therese would meditate on flowers she would learn lessons about God. Her writings on flowers were compiled into a book called The Story of a Soul.
Sometimes she wrote about individuality and our place in God’s Kingdom. In one passage she wrote, “I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.”
What that really drives home to me is that whether you live your life in the Limelight among other people or not, you are important and God thinks you contribute to the beauty of creation. The violet is no less worthy than the rose. She goes on to say that the Saints are like lilies or roses and that we must be content to be the violets or daisies that God smiles at when He looks down. What I think this means is that while Saints’ souls have been perfected by fire, we are beautiful too. We can’t all be Saints, and we should not all be Saints. We may not stand out in a crowd of souls like they do, but if the world was filled with all the same kind of people everything would get very monotonous. Everyone’s variety and individuality is needed. It makes God smile, and anything that makes God smile is a necessary thing. God uses a macro lens when he sees us, examining our beauty in detail so that even the smallest of us flowers is gorgeous to Him.
Along those lines, Therese wrote that all of us can be perfect when we become that which God designed us to be. Popular culture seems to focus so much on perfection. And in Christianity we avoid the very concept because none of us are without sin, and to be truly perfect is to be sinless. But this is another, interesting idea of perfection that I like. God has designed each and everyone of us with a unique personality and temperament, with different skills and interests, and with different purposes. When we live out our purposes and function in the way He designed us, we are perfect. Obviously our souls are not perfect because we are sinners. Everyone needs Jesus. But our personhood can be perfect.
Then the question becomes, what are my gifts and what is my purpose? How can I fully live in accordance with my design, including my personality, temperament, and life circumstances? To what degree am I already doing this or to which I might have already fulfilled my purpose at least by and large?
I know that I was meant to be Craig’s wife. So day in and day out I fulfill that purpose. I was meant to be Angelica’s mother. God chose me to be her mother. So I try to fulfill that purpose to the best of my ability. God designed me to be very creative. So what is the purpose of that creativity? Although I enjoy making art I am by no means proficient at it. So what is the purpose? It could just be so that I can enjoy it. God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be holy first, but wherever possible we should be holy and happy. My life provides the opportunity to be happy and gives me chances to work on myself to be more holy. I should take advantage of both opportunities. What role is creating things or doing photography supposed to play in my life?
What about my writing? As a writer I sometimes feel so isolated. I always thought I would go to grad school, get an MFA and then a Ph.D, and start teaching at the college level. I thought that I would know other writers from my days in grad school and that I would be publishing books. But I was not destined to do that. God had other plans for me, better plans. But my passion for writing poetry remains, and I have very little opportunity to use that voice above a whisper, at a volume that other people can hear me. So what am I supposed to do with all my poetry? What is the ultimate purpose to me being a poet? I might get a book published but I might not. I may try to publish more chapbooks since I really enjoy chapbooks, but there is no telling if that will come through and I have not submitted in a very long time. Is God’s plan for me to have a book published? Or does He have other plans for me and my little poems? Do I need to start submitting again? Or am I supposed to take some other avenue?
Moving to Colorado with my husband has brought about tremendous change in my life. New place, new people, new schedule, new terrain, new opportunities. I am sure that this move was important. What am I supposed to be doing with it? I’m getting involved with my church and I feel like that’s the right direction to go in. I don’t know what will come of my involvement, but maybe my hands are needed. I want Angelica to really get something out of living in Colorado for 3 years, whether that is simply amazing and beautiful experiences, or a friend that she’s supposed to make, or maybe getting plugged into this church will make a big difference in her life.
Like everyone else, I have so many facets to my personality. I’m kind of a mixture of Victorian lady, 1950s housewife without the good organizational skills, and a dark, Gothic princess. God made me these things, and there must be a reason for each one of them. So how can I live out my life in such a way as to be authentically who God made me, fulfilling his design for me and reaching perfection in what He wanted me to be?
I may never be a rose, either in God’s eyes or the world’s. You never know, but probably not. But sometimes I don’t want roses when I go to the market. I want a nice bouquet of daisies, or maybe some violets. How does God want me to bloom?