small pieces of joy

pieces of joy in each day

bee yourself

on May 13, 2011

Today’s small thing: finishing a 400 page book…finally!

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I started this book sometime last year, put it down for a few months, and picked it up again about a month ago. Today I finished it!! What an awesome feeling of accomplishment it is to close a book knowing you’ve read every single word. Sometimes I like to just hold the book in my hands for a little bit and ‘feel’ the weight of the information my brain consumed. All of this could translate into ‘I’m a nerd’ but that is a whole other blog post…

The book I finished is called My Life With the Saints by James Martin, SJ. The SJ stands for Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. He is a Jesuit priest who wrote this book sort of like a memoir, sharing about his favorite saints through personal stories of how he grew to know them and how they have helped him through his life.

I have loved every minute of reading this book. He’s funny, he’s real, and he is very encouraging. Until recently it has been hard to understand that priests are people too. I used to think they didn’t do anything except say mass and live at the church. I remember freaking out when I saw my priest at the grocery store when I was little!

Anyway, it was very encouraging to read about this holy man. He explains real and honest struggles and shows how his relationship with God through the saints helped him become the best version of himself.

I have been struggling lately with this idea of ‘being myself’. As a substitute teacher it has been difficult to know who I am, especially since in one day I could teach Kindergarten and then 8th grade, depending on the situation. It has been difficult for me to find my place in the school and among the students, especially since I was so accustomed to running my own classroom in a school where I knew the rules and all the people pretty well. All of these factors have made me feel pretty isolated in my job. I don’t know who or what to be there.

Then I finished this book today. I want to share with you a passage that really changed how I think about my job, and more importantly my place in my life right now.

“Thomas Merton often distinguished between the “false self” and the “true self.” The false self is the person we present to the world, the one we think will be pleasing to others: attractive, confident, successful. The true self, on the other hand, is the person we are before God. Sanctity consists in discovering who that person is and striving to become that person. As Merton wrote, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.”

I think I’ve been trying so hard to be the substitute I think others want me to be. I’m trying to do what I think they want me to, or act how I think I should. I didn’t do this when I was teaching! I was ME and I did my job the way I knew personally and professionally I should do it. Why should this situation be any different? And here’s another good point…

“God’s invitation to live out our unique vocations is part of what makes the world so rich. “How gloriously different are the saints,” wrote C.S. Lewis. Problems arise when we begin to believe that we have to be someone else to be holy. We try to use someone else’s map to heaven when God has already planted in our soul all the directions we need. In that way, we ignore our own call to sanctity. When admirers used to see Mother Teresa, she would tell many of them, “Find your own Calcutta.”

Wow. So I get to work on becoming holy in this job, then? I need to find MYSELF and BE myself more in order to really do what I need to do.


Not as easy as it sounds. But I think I can do it.

Thanks for enduring my own little self-evaluation today. I hope it helps you too!

Since this book is FINISHED, What book to you suggest for me to read next?


2 responses to “bee yourself

  1. Grandma Kennedy says:

    My favorite author is Nicholas Sparks. Any he writes is worth reading. I rarely cry when reading a book but he has that power so that you can relate to his characters and feel their pain and sucesses. Enjoy.


  2. Kathy says:

    Hi, Kari!

    I’d be interested in hearing back about any other substitute teachers’ feelings or experiences. As you know, substitute teachers are a very important and integral part of our schools. We simply couldn’t function without them.

    You have the strength of character to always be you and show others who you are, but there is nothing phony about acquiesing to each different situation. When we sub, we have to follow the lesson plans that teacher left for us. If we know a better way to do something, or an easier way, it would be difficult to convey that if we don’t know that teacher personally and very well. However, your personality will always shine through. Whenever I say something in the classroom that are words from a song, or a student says something that reminds me of certain lyrics, I burst into song. Most of the time, they dont’ know the song, and I don’t sing the entire song. The year that I subbed, I did that a few times.

    As you know, following curriculum is easy, the really difficult stuff for a sub is, where do the students line up for lunch? What are the recess rules? What students are not able to leave the room for a restroom break by themselves because they’ll just wander the halls? Classroom management is so important, especially following the teacher’s management plan whether it is filling a marble jar, moving a race car from green to yellow to red, or just a sticker or “Good job!” comment.

    You possess poise and confidence. That will always shine through. I imagine you have already made wonderful first impressions for the work you’ve done this year. Just keep following your heart and have faith.

    Love, Kathy


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