One example of this is a spiritual classic that I read for the first time in January. The book was called The Story of a Soul. It is the record of of the life of Thérèse of Lisieux. Thérèse was a 19th century Carmelite nun. She wrote down the book that we know today at The Story of a Soul at the request of her mother-superior. It’s a touching story about her lifelong desire to become a Carmelite nun and her way of learning to find God in the midst of suffering and humility.
The reason this book had such an impact on me was because I read it in a time where I desperately needed to hear about humility, but had no way to understand it myself. I was proud and self assured, but God was leading me into a place of confusion and difficulty. How could I, in all my arrogance, find the words to understand a life that was daily putting me into a place of ignorance?
Thérèse spoke in words that cut me like a knife. Her simple ways were powerful in their weakness. I was silenced from the simplicity of her thought. She saw who God was and how much greater God was then she was and she found peace in that. She didn’t seek to prove herself as something great in the sight of God but made it her life’s goal to be something small. When people attacked her she relished it as the highest treasure, for she understood that enemies drive one into the embrace of God more than friends ever could. When things gave her pleasure she willingly gave them up to Christ as a dear treasure to present to her dearest spouse, Jesus.
This last semester in my seminary career has been one of the most difficult times of my life. I have been constantly exhausted, often away from my wife and son, and continually confused about where I am going in life. If it wasn’t for Thérèse’s words that showed me a new way to love Jesus I don’t know if I could have made it through. I could love Jesus just as deeply in confusion, exhaustion, and disappointment as I could in certainty and self assurance. In fact I might be able to love him better now than I ever could without suffering.