When I came back to the church, I was filled with despair. My life was often besieged with panic attacks and anxiety. It was not uncommon for me to hide in my room only doing what was necessary to support my sons.
I remember reading St. Therese's words and thinking how simple it could be, so reachable, and easy to understand for someone who had no clue about the spiritual journey. I had been so far away for so long and so lost to anything concerning God. I was certain I was bound for hell. However, St. Therese's spiritual tenderness and simplicity became a guide for me in the first steps of my journey.
I remember especially two examples from the her diary that stay with me to this day. The first was St. Therese comparing herself to a "little bird."
"O Jesus, Your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in Your presence, to fall asleep in front of You. Yes, this is still one of the weaknesses of the little bird: when it wants to fix its gaze upon the Divine Sun, and when the clouds prevent it from seeing a single ray of that Sun, in spite of itself, its little eyes close, its little head is hidden beneath its wing, and the poor little thing falls asleep, believing all the time that it is fixing its gaze upon its Dear Star. When it awakens, it doesn’t feel desolate; its little heart is at peace and it begins once again its work of love. It calls upon the angels and saints who rise like eagles before the consuming Fire, and since this is the object of the little bird’s desire the eagles take pity on it, protecting and defending it, and putting to flight at the same time the vultures who want to devour it. These vultures are the demons whom the little bird doesn’t fear, for it is not destined to be their prey but the prey of the Eagle whom it contemplates in the center of the Sun of Love."
The concept of surrendering, of knowing I could not do it, but He would, appealed to me. Also, because I lived in such darkness, her analogy of starring at the sun even when she could not see it gave me the hope I needed to continue to trust in spite of how I felt. She made heaven accessible to me. She was so human.
Many people think of sainthood as rising to perfection, but in truth it is Jesus descending to us our misery. The second passage that I remember so clearly was about how Jesus lifted her to Himself as if an elevator. She spoke of her "little way of confidence and love," trusting in His goodness to her to the point of folly. She made it possible for me to believe in healing, forgiveness, and mercy because she made me recognize I not only was unable to do it myself, but that He wanted to do it because of His love for me in spite of my failings and weaknesses.