The original Epiphany we celebrated a few days ago commemorated Jesus’ physical manifestation on earth thousands of years ago. Now we think of modern day epiphanies as earth-shattering dramatic moments where we suddenly understand something previously unknown. Or is that just me? My life doesn’t contain too many of those. But there are many times when I’ve come to understand a concept in a way that completely shifted my perspective.
I was on my way to one of those moments in an airplane during spring break. It was a combined retreat and service trip, in a place I’d never been to, without a single soul I’d met before. I’m still not sure why I went, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience during my college years.
Getting there was the most hectic day of flying I’ve ever experienced. There were delays and narrowly missed flights, which was stressful and resulted in me crying on a plane. I don’t recommend that very highly, but sometimes it happens. I was burnt out from my leadership role on campus, and (looking back on journal entries from the time) frustrated with people in my life who I felt were constantly letting me down and falling short of my expectations.
The trip was great, and the retreat parts were the best. In particular, I enjoyed the couple days that were a silent retreat. I spent a lot of time in adoration, and asked God to help me love other people better.
Then my mind was completely blown reading a book I had brought, Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.
It talked about how we understand God as a community of persons who exist in eternal self-giving to each other within the Trinity. Then it talked about how as men and women, we were created in God’s image to reflect that love in mutual self-gift. And more generally applied outside the context of relationships, it discusses the nature of human love intended to be a reflection of the eternally giving Trinity we were made in the image of.
It is about giving of myself.
Other people cannot be controlled.
But I can focus on giving instead of getting.
Gifting instead of grasping.
That is what I am made for, and what we are all called to: heroic, sacrificial, giving, love.
This taught me the truth about love that has given me so much peace and freedom in otherwise frustrating situations. It fuels me when my effort doesn’t feel reciprocated. And it really did change everything.
It’s hard to describe just how freeing it is to realize we are all called to be self-giving. Wouldn’t that be incredible if we challenged ourselves to take that to heart? If we didn’t calculate in how people do or do not return our loving care and attention? God was physically revealed to the world thousands of years ago, with the Wise Men as some of the first witnesses. Today we can witness to the love God manifests in our everyday little moments by choosing to lovingly give in reflection of his image.
It could be doing a chore for your spouse or roommate when they forget. Or being the one to remember a special day for a friend by texting or calling them. Or taking a deep breath and focusing your attention on the toddler or person next to you in line instead of your phone. It’s going the extra mile, and giving the best of your effort, because that is what we’re called to live as Christian women made in the image of God.
Realizing this call written into my being from the beginning was an epiphany I’ll never forget, and that I hope to always take to heart.
How are you or could you live that out?