God, Shakespeare and Finding You

“I need to find myself,”  said my bright-eyed, soon-to-be-graduate classmate a few weeks ago. And she wasn’t the first young adult—or person of any age for that matter—who voiced her desire to discover who she is, what she really wants, and how she wants to spend the rest of her life. Apparently, this self-discovery is a necessity to taking that grown-up step, from the world of backpacks and midterms to the real-life classroom of working careers, future families, and heightened responsibility. Isn’t it?

In the years I spent working at a coffee shop, I talked to numerous young adults who have gone traveling around the country—or around the world—as if hoping to “find themselves” tucked away in a corner of a foreign land. Some have gone looking for themselves in countless bars, night clubs, and in damaging relationships. Still others decided to find themselves in their careers, contracting workaholism like a bad flu immediately in their first “real” jobs. Months, often years, and sometimes decades later, these people still found themselves looking for, well, “themselves.”

I have one piece of advice to my fellow young adults, to all those recent college grads, and to the many people who still feel (at whatever stage in life) that they have no idea who they are, where they are, or what they want to become.

Stop looking for yourself and look for God.

All of us find our identities in God. After all, we were made in His image. When we go looking for ourselves in every nook and cranny of the material world, our efforts will always be fruitless. By searching for our identities apart from God, we most certainly stand the risk of reducing ourselves to fads. Our identities divorced from God are, without question, wavering, bland, wishy-washy characters, subject to the kind of repetitive change that is solely dependent on our feelings. Once we think we’ve found ourselves, the world changes, and our “self” becomes a has-been, unfashionable.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, “All that is not eternal is out of date.” 

God is unchanging. He is the static standard we are all looking for. You are only you in relation to HIM.

Wouldn’t your adolescent years have been so much easier if you had embraced the same self-confidence axiom that you now so obviously understand, namely, that it’s a lot easier to be yourself when you stop thinking about being yourself. Fitting in happens when you stop trying to fit in.

You find yourself when you stop looking for yourself. Egocentrism always leaves you with a blurrier picture of you, not a clearer one.

Our culture has convinced people to spend too much time searching for themselves. In fact, any time spent in the search for self is too much time—a total waste of time. Remember that the “you” part of you is dust, and to dust you will return. The child of God in you was created for eternity. The saints knew the secret: that they in themselves were nothing, God is everything, and they only could become something in relation to The Everything. They were the gold-medalists in self-discovery. They did the one thing necessary for self-discovery: God-discovery. All they had to do to realize their identity was to see themselves as beloved children in relation to a lovable Father. 

I have one final note. Those who think they are going to be able to find themselves without God’s help are sadly mistaken. The author-character metaphor always helps shed light on this reality. Who knows more about Hamlet: Hamlet or Shakespeare? Shakespeare, of course—the playwright, the author, the master craftsman. Hamlet doesn’t exist without Shakespeare giving Hamlet his existence. All of Hamlet’s talents, shortcomings, quirks, were implanted in his being by his creator.

All of your personality traits, hopes, desires, and gifts were given to you by the unmoved mover outside of your being. Find the God who made you and you’ll find you.

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About the Author

Katie Warner is a Catholic wife, stay-at-home mother, speaker, writer, and evangelist who is passionate about taking small steps toward a more meaningful and spiritual life, and helping others do the same.

She is the author of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, Fall 2015), a book that offers practical strategies and inspiring stories to help men and women better lead and love their families toward heaven.

Katie writes and speaks about a variety of spiritual and practical topics, and has presented in venues like the National Catholic Bible Conference and numerous Legatus chapters, the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, EWTN radio, and on EWTN television. She is also a presenter for the Symbolon RCIA and Opening the Word programs produced by the Augustine Institute. Katie is one of the original contributing writers for The Integrated Catholic Life and a correspondent for the National Catholic Register.

Katie works very part-time (usually during toddler naps and late at night) as the Manager of Communication and Evangelization for Catholics Come Home, a national Catholic evangelism apostolate working to invite fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church. She holds a graduate degree in Catholic Theology, specializing in Evangelization and Catechesis, from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Her favorite ministry work—and day-job—is family life, and she enjoys homemaking and mothering in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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6 Comments

  1. Katie-This is a wonderful, thoughtful and spot on article. I remember my phase of trying to figure out who I was many, many years ago and what an empty crusade it was! I didn’t find out who I really was until I surrendered to Him in 2005 and came into the Church. I will be sharing this article widely. Well done.

    God bless-

    Randy

  2. Katie,

    I, too will be sharing this far and wide.

    For myself, this article qualifies as “a word in Season.” Thank you for giving it. As relatively new Catholic convert (three years) and a very new transplant to GA from CA (18 months) I have to admit I’ve spent far too much time trying to figure out “who I am and how I fit” in this new life of mine. My search has been without fruit – and now I know why.

    Again, Katie, Thank you!

    Victoria Walters

  3. Katie, I can personally relate to your article! I realize now what a grace it is to truly believe with all my heart in the One, unchanging Truth, who alone is God. So many wasted years of searching; reading self-help books, new-age psychology and being very introspective before first surrendering myself to Jesus. My “tumultuous twenties” were filled with hopelessness, anxiety and depression.

    LIfe got better after marriage and children, but then all of the travel and worldly excitement could not sustain me when our family system began to disintegrate.

    I finally took a leap of faith after recently experiencing a crisis with my eldest daughter, age 15. As my daughter continues to improve on her path to spiritual and emotional wellness, I can only pray that God will give her the grace to one day use her many talents and gifts to honor Him, as you, Katie, so clearly are doing in your profession.

    After stumbling on “The Integrated Catholic Life,” I am now so hooked on being fed intellectually and spiritually by the excellently written and highly relevant topics that appear each day. I have gone back into the archives to read past articles, quotes and meditations as I thirst to increase my knowledge and seek to be an ever more faithful follower of Jesus Christ.

    May God bless you, and I look forward to reading more of your inspired articles.

    In Jesus and Mary,
    Jacqueline

  4. Hi Jacqueline,

    Thank you for your feedback. We are glad you found us. Praise God for sending all of us such wonderful writers who generously share their faith, knowledge and insights with us. I, too, look forward to each of Katie’s articles. They are always relevant, succinct and instructive.

    Deacon Mike

  5. Thank you, all, for your encouraging feedback. It is truly amazing to think about how this quest of “finding you” through finding God can span generations, and can occur many times over the course of a lifetime.

    Victoria, your response reminded me of that often repeated (and rightfully and beautifully so!) St. Augustine quote: “You have made us for Yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts our restless until they rest in You.” I hope that each and every day since your entrance into the Catholic Church has been one of peace and tremendous adventure! How deep and rich our Catholic faith is!

    Jacqueline, thank you for sharing your beautiful wisdom from experience. It seems to me like your daughter has quite the role model to help guide her in her own faith journey. I know I praise God daily for all of the wonderful family members and friends in my life who testify, with their own lives, how to live out the Catholic faith with authenticity and passion.

  6. Outstanding work, Katie! Through some dramatic changes in my life in a short period of time, 12 to 15, I went from a good catholic boy, to a criminal alcholic and it took the part of 40 years to crawl my was back. In fact I did not crawl my way back at all, God brought me back. Now approaching 18 months of continuous soberity and a member of my parish in good standing and a state of grace, I am now only beginning so sense the real gary emerging. I have read in several books along the way about the false self we put on for the world to see, but in our hearts we know we do not deserve, well that was me.
    Here is the thing for me, when I am living “my” life without God, I haven’t got a clue, I always think I know what is best for Gary and that is wrong on two fronts. First, I do not know what is best for Gary, secondly, by thinking I know what is best for Gary, Gary does what Gary wants, that we call selfishness, self-centeredness, egotiscal. Well that life left me empty, wanting, spiritually brankrupt, morally deaden.
    Now, when I live life for God, putting Him first, I learn love, true love for my neighbor. By living a sacramental life, I live in grace, thus all the benefits that comes with grace. By living in a state of grace I receive the greatest gift of all, Freedom! No more looking over my shoulder, no more running and hiding, no more lying, morality is now an integral mode of being, kindness comes easily, generosity increases daily and love abounds.

    From St. Paul: Romans, 12,2; Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will og God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

    God Bless
    Gary

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