Working through some of the Saints these last few weeks has challenged me far beyond what I expected. I thought we would have a nice time telling stories from history. I did not expect to go through an identity crisis (of which I’m prone, I’m very fragile).
When I look back on the Saints I see all the great things they did. I see the books they wrote, the groups they founded, etc. These are tangible legacies. When I read their highlight reel, it is hard not to be view them as juggernauts stomping around changing the world. I compare them to modern examples like Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos. People who, by pure force of will, made the world different.
Our conversations chipped away at this perception which eventually came crashing down on me. The Saints don’t operate like the world does. They don’t try to change the world. That is me projecting onto them. The Saints just did one thing, lived for Christ. It looked different for all of them, but the heart of it is the same across the board.
This came to light when AJ and I were discussing Frances of Assisi. He founded the Franciscans, except he didn’t. He wouldn’t have allowed it to be called that because it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t until he passed that those who walked with him called it that. He did not set out to create what is now the Franciscan order. He answered his call and the Franciscans were created in the wake of that.
Wanting to be a Saint is like wanting to be humble. If I desire it, then I don’t understand it. It is not something to be achieved by my will. I cannot wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be more humble.” I know that doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. The heart of my attempt was not humility, but the manipulation of virtue so as to impress Christ by how humble I was. If you read that carefully, you will see that it is dripping with pride and centered on self-importance. Those that are truly great don’t set out to be great, because, like humility, that is now how greatness works.
This has put me on my heels lately. I know in my brain that works do not save my soul. I know there is nothing I can do to make Christ love me, favor me, care for me more. I have my own insecurity of who I am and compensate for that by covering them with actions, hoping Christ will see that and be satisfied. I hope in my depths that he will look past what I know is inside. I used to find solace in comments by people on how I was a good Christian, because inside I knew I was not. I needed external recognition to cover up an internal sense of inadequacy.
This leads to my identity crisis. I no longer want to cover my insecurities with good deeds. I no longer want to be like Lot’s wife, running in the direction of the Angels looking over my shoulder and finding myself turned to salt because Christ knows my heart. I want to pursue just Christ. I want to please Christ, but for the right reason.
If I’m saying that though, does it mean I still don’t really get it yet?