“Be who you are, and be that well.” – St. Francis de Sales
Have you ever admired someone? I mean to the degree that you want to be just like them.
For years now, I’ve admired, even venerated, G.K. Chesterton—and I don’t mean just his writing, as brilliant as that is, but Chesterton as a man. Chesterton is what I would like to be, if I had my way: joyful, witty, hilarious, humble, brilliantly insightful, imaginative, poetic, an effortless writer, childlike, prolifically productive, encyclopedic, a friend to all, even his intellectual and spiritual enemies—and the list goes on.
And because I admire Chesterton so highly, I have often found myself striving to imitate him in daily life. Recently, though, it’s dawned on me just how different we are. He was tall and fat, I am short and thin. He was perpetually exuberant, while I tend to be more melancholic and introverted. He could toss off a book effortlessly, while I have to work at every word I write. He had a voluminous mind, while I forget the most basic details.
The point is, I am not, nor will I ever be, G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton had a natural genius, a unique charism of sanctity that I will never have. Of course, he also had his own sins and shortcomings that I may not struggle with. The same goes for many of the saints I venerate—they were fundamentally different people than I am, and that’s alright.
The reason I bring this up is that I find quite often that veneration can subtly turn into envy. We admire someone so much that we grow discontent with who we are, with the unique gifts and personality given to us by God. Instead of wanting to be holy in the way that God has called us to be holy, we want to be holy in someone else’s way. In other words, we can

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