Matthew Kelly is one of my favorite authors and speakers. He is unapologetically (odd term to use, I know) Catholic, but it was his love for Jesus and his message of becoming the “best version of yourself” that stole my heart. I read “Rediscover Catholicism” and rediscovered, well, Catholicism. Then I read “Rediscover Jesus” and rediscovered, well, Jesus.
I love other authors and speakers too, of many different faith traditions. My sole criteria for whether or not I officially love a person’s work is this: does it come from the heart and does it speak truth?
That’s all. Pretty simple.
There are so many authors, poets, musicians, and speakers whose work I love and whose words inspire me, and at first blush they might not seem to have all that much in common since they are all from such wildly different traditions. But there is a common denominator.
They all speak about the need for each of us to be exactly who we are meant to be, in order to find joy and peace.
Which (it turns out) looks a whole lot like showing up in the world as who we really are.
This, I’m pretty sure, is not what a lot of us actually do.
I think that a lot of us go through life trying to be that thing that will: a) make everyone like us; b) make us successful (whatever that means); c) make other people approve of us; d) make everyone like us; and, e) make everyone like us.
Everyone liking us seems to be a really big thing for a lot of people. So, what usually happens is that we conduct market research on this subject.
This basically starts when we enter kindergarten, or at the latest middle school, and realize that there is a-way-to-be-liked and a-way-not-to-be-liked.
Mostly, these rules are unwritten. Hence, the need for serious market research.
But what we come to find out (if, that is, we ever do come to find it out) is that the only way to true happiness, the only way to true joy and peace and success, is to be who we are. Not who we think people want us to be. Not even who our mother wants us to be. (Sorry, mom).
But it takes a long time for some of us to figure that out. Because, and I can only speak for myself here, we sort of like to complicate things.
I especially love to do this. For no good reason.
This explains why I tend to make elaborate plans for things when really, the simple way of doing life is usually the best way.
At any rate, I’m learning.
Be who you are.
It’s so simple, and yet so hard. Because no one (at least I think no one. Or at least no one that I’ve ever had any sort of deeper-than-surface-conversation with) thinks that they’re pretty darned special just the way they are.
We are comparison junkies (and social media doesn’t really help us much there).
And yet, if we could – if you could and I could – only see how amazing we are, just as we are, our world would change.
Instead of changing ourselves, we could just concentrate on being more of ourselves, the best version of ourselves, the self we were created to be by the One who created us. Fully ourselves. Freely ourselves. Free to love and to serve and to give, as only we can give.
This, I think, sums it up perfectly:
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
Wonderfully made. You.
To just be you.
So go do that. Just be you, phenomenal you.
And I’ll try to do the same.
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