In one of the most memorable passages of Saint Therese’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul, she describes a challenge she faced frequently after she had entered the Carmelite monastery.
As the youngest member of the community, she was told to care for one of the oldest members of the community. The elderly sister needed assistance walking to the refectory (dining room) every evening before dinner. This older sister criticized Therese from the beginning to the end of every trip to the refectory. Therese was told she was walking too fast, then too slow, then being too careless, and so forth.
If you have ever had the experience of having to deal with a crabby person who needs help, you know how frustrating, infuriating, and emotionally draining it can be to face such a situation every single day, with no end in sight. But by God’s grace, Therese conquered that temptation. And she shows us how to do the same.
First, Therese never named the elderly sister and never said a single unkind word about her even while she describes her experience. She never let that evil snake called gossip enter her heart or her words.
Second, Therese related a moment of grace she experienced while walking the sister down the hall one evening. She could hear the sounds of a party from a nearby house and was struck by the difference between the elegant event next door and the mundane, apparently tedious activity she was engaged in. And rather than being jealous or bitter, she was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing her to be exactly where she was. Because she was exactly where God wanted her to be.
Saint Therese, help me to know the peace that comes from being
exactly where God wants me to be.