They say if you hear something come up three times in a very short amount of time, it could be God trying to tell you something.
I was recently thinking about humility as being accepting oneself as one is and looking for God to provide the growth, instead of trying so hard to change, but based on one's own pride. Humility would then mean thanking God for one's faults and defects and trusting that he will work through them and lead one to perfection.
Friday I went to one of the "Study Days" (Giorno di Studio) at my university, which normally is an occasion to do other work while some professor rattles on about some topic that I am not studying and which I can't follow since the discourses are normally in an Italian that perhaps Roberto Benini would use... i.e. quick and sometimes slurred. Anyway, this day was different as I had decided to try to pay attention.
What I heard was a reminder about how the life of virtue is not a means of winning God's love or gaining God's grace, but rather is a response to His love and grace. The professor said something like, one must learn to stop trying to construct a self based on one's own dream of the self and rather let God bring one to the self he has in mind. The life of virtue and asceticism would then consist in being open to God's grace and love (disponibile).
I came home that afternoon and wrote this reminder on the bulletin board on the inside of my door. "Stop trying to reach the dream of yourself - the you you think you should be. Ask God to help you to be the you He would like you to be and leave the rest in His hands."
I find that the me I think I should be is mostly based on assumptions of what I think others would want me to be, or it is based on my idea of what I think others are expecting of me so that I may win their favor and not be excluded. The me God thinks I should be starts with a simple premise: "I love you for who you are." This can be difficult to accept because most of the time we hear from other people... "I love you. Now change! Or I won't love you unless you change!" And even sometimes we are the one's assuming that others are saying "I love you. Now change," even if they are not.
With God it is "I love you as you are. My love for you will change you."
Sometimes I find myself saying, "No God, you ought to love a Br. Chris that is more humble or more patient or more polite or more affable," and this is a sin. I'm telling God what He can and can't do. Yet He comes around again with His patience and faithfulness and whispers once again: "I love you as you are. You are a treasure to me. I have made you for a life to be lived in my service. Instead of taking away your pain, I will give you compassion to be my messenger to those others who are in pain. Instead of taking away your faults, I will teach you patience with yourself so that you can be patient with others. Instead of taking away the storm that you see in your life, I will give you peace in the midst of the storm so that you may be my light for others. I love you as you are. Do not look for me to love you only if you are better or more perfect. You'll only miss my desire to love you for who you are and use you in building up my Kingdom. Let me love you as you are. For when I enter the heart of one who lets me in I establish my Kingdom within it because I begin to dwell there. So let me love you as you are so that I may start to spread my Kingdom in you."
A friend of mine just e-mailed me and told me a story that had to do with thanking God for creating her as she is. It reminded me of this same theme. That's number three! Thank you, my friend, for sharing, and thank You God for making us as we are.