Walking Our Faith: Why does God want us to become our best self? (column)
October 27, 2017
At my first swim practice, I struggled to swim one length of the 25-yard pool. Five years later, my swim coach explained why I'd been placed on the B-team relay by saying, "Suzanne, you'll never be better than an average swimmer." Eight years after my first swim practice, I set a national age-group record in the 50-meter freestyle, and earned a full-athletic scholarship to the University of Michigan, for swimming.
God never calls us to be "average" because he knows that we are created in his image. He never compares us to anyone because we are created with talents, abilities, and most of all, given a purpose by God that is unique to only us.
I was not a "natural" athlete, in fact one coach described me as having the coordination of a newborn colt. What propelled me to success, however, was a passionate love for swimming, the desire to find out how far I could go and the willingness to work hard despite numerous setbacks.
If my heart's desire could carry me that far, imagine how much more God desires for us to accomplish with his superior understanding of our capabilities.
When we understand that to be created in the image of God is to be created in the image of love, we do our best, and give our best, in gratitude for the infinite love that created us. Our work becomes our testimony of God’s love.
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All these decades later, I believe a success comes when we follow our passion, and never give up. With passion for your endeavor you gain the strength to persevere no matter the obstacle. And whether you ultimately succeed or fail, you discover contentment in the knowledge that you did your best.
Today, however, I understand it is most important that we seek God's participation in our plans. This is to confirm that we are on the right path, so that God will bless our endeavors. God's plan will be more than we thought ourselves capable of. Then, we ask God to expand our vision of what we can achieve to match his vision of what he has created us for.
There is a prayer given to me by my friend Mary Beth which comes from a novena to Blessed Pier Giorgio. I keep it on my desk and read it often:
"Heavenly Father, give me the courage to strive for the highest goals, to flee every temptation to be mediocre. Enable me to aspire to greatness, and to open my heart with joy to your call to holiness. Free me from the fear of failure. I want to be Lord, firmly and forever united to you."
Why does God care whether we strive to become our best selves rather than live lives of comfortable mediocrity? I believe it is because God created us in his perfect image to be stewards of this world. The more we expand our intellectual and creative boundaries, the more we can use them to make this world a better home for us all.
When we are fed, we can feed others. When we are sheltered, we can build homes for the homeless. When we read and write, we can teach those who cannot. When we become scientists, we discover cures for those who are sick. And the best weapon against those who create war is to raise people who love the Lord, and seek peace.
When we are living our best lives, we are happy with ourselves and with those around us. We are generous of our time and talent. When we understand that to be created in the image of God is to be created in the image of love, we do our best, and give our best, in gratitude for the infinite love that created us. Our work becomes our testimony of God's love.
In this way, we bring God's love to the world.
Thanksgiving to Go Bags Now Available
For the second year, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge, in conjunction with other Summit County faith communities, will lead the "Thanksgiving to Go" project. Each TTG bag will provide everything needed to prepare a delicious home-cooked Thanksgiving Day meal, providing nourishment and joy to those who might need a little extra help this holiday season.
Last year, with your help, we provided 300 bags. Can we double that number this year?
Please fill and return at least one TTG bag by Monday, Nov. 13. Please buy the items specified on the shopping list, (and if financially feasible) a $25 supermarket gift card! To participate, email Terese Keil TKpropmgmt@aol.com, bags are also available at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, St. Mary's Catholic Church (both in Breckenridge), and Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Silverthorne.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of "Love in a Time of War" and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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