“Ask a Priest: Why Didn’t God Make Me a Different Person?”

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Q: Sometimes I wonder why couldn’t I have been born as someone else. There’s a cousin of mine whose life I wish I had. She’s a charming person with a beautiful family, surrounded by friends, has a lovely singing voice, is confident, and is part of a successful family business. From an outsider’s point of view, her life seems absolutely perfect. Initially, I would feel a little jealous of her but now I just wonder why couldn’t I be like her or why couldn’t my life be like hers? Is that essentially the same thing as jealousy? Especially when I’m having a bad day or get feelings of inferiority or inadequacy at work, my brain goes into a cycle of “why can’t I have someone else’s life” and why was I born to be the person I am? Why couldn’t God bless me the same way my cousin is blessed? – J.A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds as though you don’t feel loved. But you are loved, deeply.

While your feelings about your cousin could be called jealousy, the solution doesn’t lie with trying to be like her but to accept yourself as you are.

Here it might help you to meditate on who you are: a beloved daughter of God who is redeemed by the blood of Christ. You are unique.

God created you out of love. He imprinted his very image in your being in a unique way, and has probably lavished a lot of gifts on you.

It helps to recall the words of St. Paul, “We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them” (Romans 12:5-6).

It can be a healthy thing to offer thanks each day for one particular thing in your life: your health, your faith, your family, your country.

Helpful, too, would be to get involved in some kind of volunteer work. When we reach out to shut-ins or the poor, we quickly discover that other people have much heavier crosses to bear. This puts our own problems in perspective, and it helps us realize how good we have it.

Reaching out to others also helps us avoid being self-centered. We think less of our desires and more about the genuine needs of others.

In any case, don’t be too quick to think that your cousin has an easy life. She might have crosses you don’t know about.

Be sure of this, though: God will give you the grace to become a saint. But you need to respond to him in the situation you are in.

To help you strive for a bit more tranquility, you might consider our free Retreat Guide on achieving peace of soul. I hope some of this helps.

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