by Caryn Tennant

By writing on this subject, I run the risk of sounding as though I have it all together. Spend a day with me, and you will realize I don’t.

But, this is something I am passionate about, have cried about, have struggled with and am striving for.

I want to be exactly who God created me to be. This is sainthood.

First, let’s demystify this word that can at times come across austere and inaccessible: saintliness. Throw it at the modern world and it would be an undesirable thing. “She’s a saint,” might be an insult where there are far more enticing things to be. Perhaps the word connotes medieval figures wrapped in robes, hands glued together in prayer. But dumb it down, and it is what I believe every human heart yearns for. Sainthood is being exactly who we are created to be – people like you and me living at our full capacity.

Why would anyone want to be only half the person they were created to be?

This topic is on my heart not because I think it’s a romantic idea or an easy one. It’s on my mind because I find myself challenged about where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to do.

Ever since I experienced the joy of emptying myself in giving time and words to teenagers in Australia, I have returned to the idea that I am meant to continue this path. It was in serving that my soul seemed to expand from what had been a place of societal pressure and tiresome searching for ‘more’.

This was my first taste of realizing that I am meant to be a gift to others; as opposed to seeking things that would fill the ever-aching gap in my being.

Now that I am teaching, I am wrestling with the feeling that I haven’t arrived at where I would like to be.

But the first step to becoming my best self, I am realizing is by being exactly where I am and looking for the opportunities to love and to serve.

Yesterday I had a great day of teaching. I thrived from the positive interactions with other teachers and students. But it took some effort on my part to feel rooted in my surroundings.

Overcoming fear 

There is always going to be an element of resistance to you becoming your best self. There are negative thoughts and judgements we make consciously and subconsciously. Then there are outside obstacles over which we have no control. These thoughts can flood our minds at any moment, and at the smallest trigger. They will always be a part of life no matter how we try to shut them out. However, we can be intentional about how we act or do not act on these thoughts.

For me, a small trigger can cause me to panic and spiral into fear and doubt. I have started practising acknowledging the thought, but not letting it become a thorn at my side. The amazing thing is that this weakness can turn into strength if we entrust it into God and try see the situation as He would.

I have seen this change in my last week.  My strength has come from a simple piece of Scripture to which I return every time I am faced with a thought that disrupts my peace.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. My ways are higher” – Isaiah 55.

God knows me and my human nature so well  – how I fear, how I try to control, how I get upset when I don’t get what I expected. But He sees things differently to me. He sees the bigger picture. He sees the beauty in every person and every opportunity. No matter how imperfect your life might seem, there is always an invitation for you to find strength in what seems to be a lousy situation.

Yesterday I had a half hour conversation with a woman I pass by every day but this time I asked, “How’s your day going?” I have found companionship, purpose and peace in areas of weakness.

Who is my flock? 

Yesterday I was inspired by the daily readings. In Acts 20, Paul tells the people to look after their ‘flock’ – in other words the people in their lives who need them.

“By every means I have shown you that we must exert ourselves in this way to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” Acts 20:35.

There is an opportunity around you today to give and to love to at least one person around you. I prayed in the morning that I could better nurture those around me and I was amazed at how God made those opportunities clear. I saw a woman who was on the verge of tears and I had the chance to listen to her. I made a resolution that I would pray for my students even though my interactions with them would be few yesterday. Incredibly, I was invited to go on a prayer walk with a small group of them during break. At the end of the prayer, I had the opportunity to pray for them in person. God was helping me to be the person I am created to be. He took my eyes that can sometimes look inward and He expanded my vision.

Grace 

Following on from Paul’s instruction, he says to the people:

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up”

Without grace, we could never be the people we are created to be. We would cast our attention on the pitfalls and have nothing to hope in.

The reason we have that ache in our hearts to find lasting happiness and live meaningfully is because we are made for God. Jesus is the only thing that can be our one security. He is the only one who can turn suffering into glory. With Him, we don’t have to fear even the worst of things: death.

Grace is what He gives us to live out our mission – be it working as a doctor or journalist, being in relationship with others and making a difference in this world.


Profile from Caryn

About the Author

Caryn Tennant

My inspirations are the smell of croissants, Pope Francis and café interiors. I have had too many hometowns, but currently I’m living in Cape Town where I finished my BA degree and am now teaching English at a high school. My bucket list includes studying theology, speaking Spanish in Spain, and running a half marathon.


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