What Wise People Say, Pt. I of (Maybe) Many

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FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

When I was a kid, I thought adults had all of the answers. I thought that my childhood was the time to ask all of the questions, indulge in one’s unbridled sense of curiosity, make all of the mistakes… and then when you hit adulthood, POOF! You get married, you have kids, and then suddenly you understand everything there is to know about life.

Now that I’m hitting the upper end of my twenties, I’m starting to realize that this is most definitely, 100% not the case. Why the heck was that ever an assumption that crossed my mind?

This has been one of the most terrifying revelations I’ve had as I dig deeper into adulthood.  What do you mean grown-ups don’t know everything? They’re human beings?? Inconceivable! The fact that no one really knows what they’re doing in this life, that we’re all winging it and faking it til we make it to get by, has been one tough pill for me to swallow.

As the gravity of adulthood sinks in more and more each day, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly introspective, turning to reflection, prayer, and stillness to get me re-centered and stay calm as I possibly can in the tumultuous storm that is the act of growing up. I’ve been reading more articles and reflections a lot, too; in particular, I’ve been fascinated with studying the lives of quiet and simple, yet profound and wise, historical figures in history.

One figure I’ve been reading about a lot lately is St. Therese of Lisieux. My favorite religion teacher in high school, Fr. Vincent, used to begin each of his classes by quoting a short saying by St. Therese: all is grace. Known as The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux explained her reason for living with these three words – words that represent simple, pure humility and a complete trust in the grace of God. Here are a few quotes of hers that help remind me that there is beauty, value, and goodness in simplicity, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at times.

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily
do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.
If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”

From these quotes, it seems to me that St. Therese quietly promoted a life of appreciation for the little things: recognizing the simple qualities that make one unique, expressing love through small acts of thoughtfulness, appreciating the subtle strengths of the people around us. Living a simplistic, yet sincere and faith-driven life is something that seems to become slightly more elusive as I become distracted by the chaos of adulthood, but stopping to read quotes like these seem to remind me that it’s not entirely impossible to live purposefully.

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