Be Joyful In Your Littleness

Our June blogpost comes from Julie Nelson.

Julie Nelson is a self described ambient introvert and Catholic “passionista.” Loving God’s sense of humor, Julie is a former nurse who now is Co-Host of Catholic Women Now weekly radio program. Speaking at the 2017 summer Well gathering, Julie is now building a speaking ministry. Her happy place is being surrounded with her family, especially by a beach or a lake. Julie lives out her childhood dream of being a fashion designer in her sewing room while binging on Fashion Runway. Julie is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in West Des Moines, Iowa.

I have lived most of my life constantly striving for self-improvement. As I blew out the birthday candles marking my midlife, I hit a wall, straight on, head first, stop me in my tracks type of wall.

I have always been a seeker, a learner. I would hunker down, confront the issue, and drill deeper into self-reflection to improve. Notice all the “I”s in the last few sentences? With pride, I pursued tenaciously. While these traits are how God created me to be, I took it to the extreme to be perfect. When I had my first major reconversion to the Catholic faith, I took Matthew 5:48 to the misguided extreme.

I read every book, prayed all the prayers, attended silent reflection retreats, sought a personal friendship with Christ in prayer, and continued on the quest to understand myself in the eyes of Christ. Being raised with a strong work ethic, I volunteered at church to serve and to learn along side faith-filled women. All good things and all helped in some way to form me.

But recently, I was finding myself feeling afloat, like a tethered fishing bobber on the water being gently tossed by the waves. This desert experience was deeper and longer than ever before in my spiritual life.

All this providential coincided with the timing of my annual silent retreat. The Retreat Director, Father Michael, was drawing from Carmelite spirituality. I was excited to learn more about Carmelite spirituality!

What I discovered has set me on a new trajectory in my spiritual life and my human way of “being.” The desert is place of self-discovery. It brings clarity to see the face of Christ. The Saints began their mission in the desert. St. Faustina saw the face of Christ’s mercy, St. Ignatius saw the face of Jesus struggling on the cross.

What did Christ want me to discover? The more I pray, the more desire I have for Christ, BUT the harder it is to possess Him.

Spiritual life doesn’t become stronger, it becomes more trusting.

Stop relying on being a doer! How many times I have heard this but now God was asking me to live it. I realized I was trying to make my spiritual life deeper by an endless round of activities when at times I was bearing most of the work all by myself. How much fruit can I bear alone, by myself? Let it go … and trust God. So simple, but can seem elusive to imbue.

Recently, in prayer, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me: “Be joyful in your littleness” That word “littleness” made me wince. It implies to me: weak, helpless, timid, and scared.

“But wait, there is more,” came the reply to my prideful grousing. Littleness in the eyes of Jesus, is to accept my imperfections with joy knowing this is how God loves me because He loves everything He creates. My imperfections are part of my perfection as His masterpiece. My imperfections impel me to rely on others who have been created with their own gifts to balance my imperfections. More will be accomplished in the Kingdom of God when we accept our imperfections as part of our perfection, to know we are imperfectly perfect in our Father’s gaze.

As my good friend, St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, states beautifully: “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness”

Now my dear sisters, Go bloom where you are planted!

Copyright 2018 Julie Nelson