by Margo Borders
I was recently inspired by a poem I came across by St. Teresa of Avila, who celebrated the 500th anniversary of her death last year, entitled “For You I Was Born.” The poem resonated with me as a profoundly humble and obedient woman’s reflection on the importance of doing God’s will, and her deep inner journey to find what that might be.
As St. Teresa of Avila reflects on God’s marvelous being and the reality of her lowly existence, she ends each stanza with the line, “What do You want of me?” Every thought is aimed towards God, with importance placed not on Teresa’s desires, but solely on what God is calling her to.
The poem begins with the words, “I am Yours and born of You; What do You want of me?” Teresa is affirming the basic tenant of our faith: that we are created and fully known by God. We are not our own, but are created for a unique purpose, one that we must discern as Teresa does in her prayer. Teresa recognizes that our sole purpose in life is to do God’s will, and to trust in His Divine Providence. Because He has created us, He knows our hearts and what will make us truly happy.
The most beautiful, yet challenging, part of her writing is that she not only asks God what He wants of her, but she also says yes to anything He will ask. She says, “Give me death, give me life, health or sickness, honor or shame…Yes, to these I say.” Imitating Mary’s “fiat,” she radically offers her entire self to God. She embraces every possibility, saying, “If You want me to rest, I desire it for love; If to labor, I will die working.”
In these words of acceptance, she not only embraces God’s will, but endeavors to love God’s will. A true love of God’s will can only come from authentic and constant prayer. It is something difficult, yet is a part of our everyday struggle. When we recognize God’s infinite love for us, we can trust in His plan for our lives and come to infinitely love His will.
St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer gives us, as college students, an amazing example of discernment to live out in our daily lives. We, who question each day what we are to do with our lives and the opportunities with which we are privileged, should devote time to ask God these questions. A true process of discernment cannot be complete without prayer, and without an acceptance that God, and not the world, is our reason for living. Teresa realizes God lives within her, whether she is “sorrowing or exulting,” and that whatever God calls her to will be the ultimate happiness of her life.
Let us find our peace, like Teresa, in whatever God’s will is for us in each and every aspect of our lives. We can discern our larger vocation, but we can also discern every small choice we make, including the attitude with which we approach the uncontrollable circumstances in our lives. Every day and every moment is an opportunity to embrace God’s will for our lives.
“Yours I am, for You I was born.
What do You want of me?”