Your Story Matters and It’s Beautiful

I am alive and well, and I hope that you are too!

This weekend I went up to New Hampshire with nearly 70 other students searching for one or more of the following: alone time with God, fellowship with friends who are seeking God, fresh air and serenity away from Boston, a new experience, and/or answers to any deep, personal questions. Whatever the reason, I think it’s safe to say that everyone who went on retreat is coming back to campus with something new and good.

Even if you’re not Catholic (heck, even if you’re an atheist), I am willing to bet that you can connect with some of the lessons I learned from this retreat and which I am about to share with you presently.

Wait, first, can we just appreciate how my lab partner (Christina, a nutrition major) and I order the same breakfast and bring our own peanut butter to the dining hall? There are many signs of friendship, but this one takes the [whole wheat pan-] cake.

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two eggs scrambled with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, and broccoli + whole wheat pancake with peanut butter

The difference: she doesn’t like banana and I don’t like coffee. Fair enough. There’s something wrong with both of us.

Anyway, back to this retreat and all the beautiful things that it entailed.

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The theme of the retreat was “Called to Greatness,” which sounds inspirational to many, but also kind of daunting. As someone who is extraordinarily ordinary (and often sub-ordinary), I knew I would be challenged by the messages I would hear on retreat. But challenge = change, so leggo.

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Dreams. We all have ’em, and we want to chase after them. Whether that’s an “MD” at the end of your name, creating a world-famous blog, making “gainz”, having a family, becoming Beyonce’s personal assistant, or becoming Beyonce, our dreams drive us.

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Some people find peace in chasing that dream. Peace doesn’t mean it’s easy, but through all their hard work and sleepless nights, they know that their work is truly fulfilling.

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But sometimes (probably often), chasing those dreams can disappoint us. Even if we get what we want, there is something gnawing at us that the success and happiness is just skin deep.

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brought my own peanut butter (and shared!) #notsorryatall

An example from my own life: Fitness. I’m sure many of you are familiar with my love of exercise, which I believe is at a healthy state now. However, just a few years ago my life was consumed with a dream to achieve approval, attention, success, and self-worth through fitness. I literally worked myself sick to obtain a body that was not my own.

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I dreamed about being fit. Even after my disordered thoughts started to dissipate, fitness was at the forefront of my mind more often than not.

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I mean, look at my blog title. “Daily Moves and Grooves” is a reflection of how much I love to move. Although this blog has been a wonderful outlet for my fitness and health journey, and although I am in a healthy place mentally and physically, food and fitness just can’t fill my heart.

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Maybe you’ve felt this way about a certain path in your life.

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Or maybe not. But for those of you who have, how did you come to realize that your life was a little empty? Where did you turn?

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For me, God directed my footsteps towards Boston University–the Catholic Center in particular.

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kitchen staff rockin’ it as always ♥︎ 

He taught me through the people I’ve met that my pursuit of a life fulfilled by food and fitness was completely in vain. Health is important to me, but I was letting health be a part of my life for the sake of health, not for the sake of being a better student, friend, daughter, sister, or servant of God.

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I may have taken risks. I may have been bold in doing physical tasks that I never thought I could do (and don’t get me wrong, I’m proud that I did). But that kind of boldness was for myself. It was a selfish boldness.

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As I spent more time with the people at the BU Catholic Center, I observed how they channeled their energies, talents, conversations, trials, and joys towards helping others− helping others and themselves draw closer to Love (aka God).

[k, so maybe this isn’t for atheists too, but feel free to stay anyway]

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These people have been humble and generous enough to share their stories with me and their other peers, and each story that I hear is unique, glorious, and ever-unfolding. Like my story, each of their stories has elements of confusion and disappointment. But most of all, each of their stories involves being called to transcend something that “should have” been fulfilling.

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And in sharing their stories, they reveal one piece of their journey in answering the Call to Greatness. In continuing to live each day with courage and trust in God, they are saying “yes” to that call. They are filling a space in their lives that cannot be replaced by anything or anyone but Love.

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To sum up what this weekend’s speaker, Fr. Eric, said so well: Our stories are unique and beautiful, but they are not about us. Nothing that we do deserves praise. Rather, our stories of greatness and boldness are ways that God uniquely and beautifully works through us to bring others to fulfillment in Him. Our stories are about God.

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What you choose to do impacts more people than you know, and even the littlest acts of love can have the biggest impact.

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That seems like a lot of pressure, especially since we’re weak, “squishy mortals” (in the words of Geraldine). But He called you to greatness, and like any loving parent, He’s not going to leave you alone in your journey. He came to the earth and poured His life out for us, so there’s that.

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This got a lot more religious than I originally intended, but I guess I just want to say that your story matters, and it’s beautiful. It’s still unfolding, as all of ours are, but you are called to greatness. Whatever that means to you, strive and pray to answer the call with boldness. Share it with others, because that only reveals more beauty and hope to the world.

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one of these is not like the others…for a few reasons

My call to greatness is to leave behind my pride and selfishness. There are many specific ways I can do that, so with every part of my day, I can depend on God to help me along.

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Blogging is just one of the many ways I can share my story, and I am eternally grateful for all of you who listen, share with me, and encourage me to be better.

Literally don’t know if any of this is coherent, but hopefully it makes some sense. If not, just know that you’re great, and that’s the truth.

Thank you to all who made this retreat amazing. You teach me so much. Thank you to God for being faithful (and for letting us see the stars, despite clouds on Friday and all of Saturday 🙂 ).

Have an awesome Monday!!!

So tell me:

Thoughts?

What did you do this weekend?

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12 thoughts on “Your Story Matters and It’s Beautiful

  1. Such a good reminder Alison! Thanks for sharing! ❤

    (And I can't help but smile at the picture where you are the shortest, and all the other girls are the same height. I had some Asian friends, granted they were mostly male, and they were almost all taller than me! Whenever we took a group picture, I was the one standing out because I was white and short. One of the many reasons I wish I was more than 0.05% Japanese… 😀 😉 Ah, I miss my Asian friends. 😥 )

  2. Beautifully and eloquently written Alison! So so much truth. All this stuff we fill our lives with (social media, fitness, diets,) they don’t satisfy us. It’s like eating a bowl of lettuce. It may fill us up for about 5 min but we need stuff to sustain us! Bring on the meat and potatoes! Or in this case, Christ!
    I literally have no idea what I’m writing but it’s early and Monday and now I’m hungry but this is so so right on. You’re growth and beauty truly shines through in everything you write and DO!!
    Love you girl

  3. Thank you for this, Alison!! It’s a lovely post (LOVE the title!) and such a needed reminder to us all. Especially for me…your words emphasized the principles I am reading in Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly” (only from a Christian perspective 😉 ). It’s like God is trying to get this message through to me, and sometimes I think I’m implementing what He’s teaching me, and sometimes I think I don’t quite understand. But I keep trying and the more times I hear these truths, the better. Thank you for reminding us that His is always with us, through every lesson, trial and victory, and for encouraging us to do hard things and pursue the goal He sets before us!

  4. Heck yes. This touched me; it’s so where I’m at right now. I’ve been praying lately Jesus can help me to change my heart from obsession with health and fitness, to using it as a tool to bring glory to Him and to live a fuller life. I love the way you put this- thank you for sharing and bringing truth 🙂 xx

  5. This is absolutely beautiful. I can definitely relate to pursuing things for purely selfish reasons and realizing that achieving them didn’t bring me anywhere close to the level of happiness that I thought I’d get. It wasn’t until I stopped putting so much focus on myself and started looking at how I can help others that everything fell into place and I found that fulfillment I was looking for.

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