Are you a violet or a rose?

Do you ever find yourself wishing you were someone else? Or maybe just wishing you had some of the attributes of another person? Sometimes I catch myself wishing I were thinner, more attractive, richer, more articulate … I have a long list. My own good qualities seem pale and wan when compared to the lithe beauties at the gym, the brilliant writers on bestseller lists, the rich and famous who jet around the world doing charitable deeds (while looking drop-dead gorgeous!).

That’s why I love this quote from St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” It reminds me that no matter how wonderful someone else might be, I have my own value and worth in God’s eyes.

As Lent draws to a close, I encourage all of us who work in parishes or for the church to take a little time to reflect on our own unique qualities, not to become puffed up and proud, but in order to give thanks to God for having created each of us as wondrous reflections of himself. Remember we are told to love others as we love ourselves. If we don’t love and appreciate ourselves, how can we love and appreciate others?

* List three things that you know you do very well. Thank God for having giving you special ability in those areas.

* Find one thing about your body that you love. Express gratitude for having been wondrously made.

* Remember that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. What can you do today to make sure the temple is well-cared-for? (Drinking more water is a good place to start!)

* Write down one thing about yourself that you would never want to lose. Then ask how you can use that gift or ability in better service of our Lord.

* The next time someone gives you a compliment, instead of brushing it aside, simply say “thank you.” And mean it!

* If you make a mistake (and we all do) be as gentle to yourself as you would to a co-worker. If you would give them a second chance, give yourself one.

* Stop saying negative things about yourself like “I’m always so stupid,” or “I can never do that right.” God made you, so what right do you have to call God’s creation stupid or worthless?

* If you’ve done something wrong, ask God for forgiveness … then forgive yourself. We hold onto our sins much longer than God does.

* Make a point to say, “Thank you for my life” several times during the day.

The point of these exercises is to help you refocus on your value and goodness, not to increase your pride, but to increase your gratitude to God for all that he can accomplish through you. As St. Thérèse says, we might be tiny unassuming flowers, but we bring something to spring that would be lacking if we weren’t present.