I’ve never had a great devotion to St. Therese of Lisiuex whose feast day is celebrated today in the Catholic Church. Sure, she has an incredibly interesting backstory. Yes, she’s known to have been incredibly pious. She’s one of only four women Doctors of the Church, was raised by parents who would also be canonized as saints, and died at the age of 24. But, you see, I’ve always felt like my personality was just too big to feel much of a connection to someone who’s known as The Little Flower.
Recently, I’ve felt like the very littlest of flowers.
We look through the eyes of the world.
Rejection after rejection. Simple let-downs that, individually, would be a bummer to shake off and move on from. But when taken as hit after hit, leave us feeling smaller and smaller. More and more insignificant. Especially in today’s world of instant sharing and the social media frenzy, it can be so, so hard. Can’t it? And it leaves me wondering…
How do we step back from the madness to know that the acceptance and success of some does not mean the rejection and failure of ourselves?
I know that I’m not alone in this. I have had enough conversations with other women to understand that this feeling of inconsequence in the eyes of the world is a very common tale. We look at the career success of our peers and wonder where we went wrong. We examine every infinitesimal shortcoming we think we possess and regard them as gospel truth. And we ask ourselves, why do they seem to be able to achieve when time after time after time…I fall short?
This person is included in a group I thought myself to be part of, but have once again been excluded from. That person has spent happy decades in a field I quit ages ago. Another woman got a book deal, snagged a promotion, has a successful marriage, travels the world, loses the weight, raises the kids who do nothing but excel. You fill in the blanks.
Looking through the world’s eyes can be very harsh, indeed.
Therese looked through Heaven’s eyes.
St. Therese, too, compared herself to others. But her concern wasn’t the material stuff of this world. Therese just wanted to be holy. Namely, she wanted to be a saint.
I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone would look at my life and say, Wow – that woman sure is holy. In fact, that’s her whole aim in life. No, I know myself and I know that I am way too concerned with the here and now for that to be the case. My comparisons are much more of the materialistic and earthly variety.
But how many of us can relate to her when she compares someone else to “a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds” and herself to “a humble grain of sand”? (I’m raising my hand; are you?)
The Little Flower
Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.
What beauty is there in that simple wisdom? “God would not make me wish for something impossible” so “I put up with myself as I am.”
St. Therese looked for her own means of going to heaven, making her own new “little way” in the world, and look where that got her! Her life was so very hard, but she became an even greater saint than she could’ve ever imagined. Many times, dare I say most times, our paths are more difficult than we thought they’d be and look nothing like what we imagined, right? So shouldn’t we, too, look for our own little ways?
I’ll be honest with you right now, friend. Instead of feeling like my personality is too big for the Little Flower’s Little Way? I’ve been feeling that even the Little Way is too big for me. And I know that has to change.
I can’t wallow in my own negativity anymore. I can’t always depend on others to boost me back up. Like Therese, I need to know in my heart of hearts that God only wants me to be me as He made me to be. That there is a reason for all of my trials and rejections and small sufferings. And, like Therese, I must find my own little way.
When you feel like the littlest flower…
When you feel like the littlest flower in the garden, maybe say this short prayer and ask Jesus’ original Little Flower to pray with you, too.
Jesus, my heart is hurting. I feel small and insignificant in the eyes of the world. Rejection, oversight, and insignificance weigh heavily upon me. Take away my jealousy, Lord, and fill me with Your joy. Help me to see the beauty of my life as You have made it for me. Remind me that even the littlest flowers are not only beautiful but necessary to the Gardener. And help me to always remember and emulate St. Therese’s words, “My vocation is love.”
Friend, if you would like to know more about St. Therese of Lisieux, look here. This is also where I pulled her quotes from for this post.
You can also find more about her and the official novena prayers to her here.