Define Yourself By Who You Are, Not What You Lack


Elizabeth Moriarty is light to others

In a liturgical season that encourages reflection on desert and darkness, I am struck by the longer days of light.

Yesterday, I caught up with my dear friend Beth over email, who along with her husband, Joe, is getting ready to welcome a little baby girl into the world. Simultaneously, I was overjoyed to be hearing more about her pregnancy and all the parenting seeds she is anticipating planting with this new life, and I felt a little sad for not having talked to her in a long time.

She is a person who has always brought light into my life and having shared some of my own fun news, I lamented in my email message about owing her a letter or a phone call.

She replied simply, in her way of sweetest truthfulness:

Phone call or letter…either is welcome. But you owe me nothing. Just keep letting your little light shine. I can see it from here.

Then it hit me: so often I find myself caught up in regret about wanting to be more and do more for others and, lo and behold, there I am wandering in the metaphorical desert and darkness, not realizing how I am a light for others and, they, a light for me.

In identifying as a “Catholic single,” I think it is all too easy to define oneself by what you do not have (a spouse and marriage vows) rather than who you are and what you can give. We focus on the dark or the dryness and do not see the light that shines out of us, the living water we can be to parched souls. It is often less about doing and more about just being.

To Beth’s sister-in-law Chris I owe the following insight about how to be light as a single man or woman:

“There are so many struggles of expressing that love, including intruding on other relationships, having healthy friendships, and just plain old trying to live the Christian life.”

Fr. Ken Grabner, C.S.C., a holy man I often hear preach, expands on the point Chris makes:

It is God who enables us to be light to others. The power is his.  That is why it is no small thing for us to be like light for others.  We only receive what we have been given, and what we have been given comes from the source of all light.

Jesus tells us that the light we have received MUST shine before others. In this way, what we do to spread light is finally for the glory of God.

To bring light to others is to bring them the truth that they are loved and valued. If we show that to others and they believe it, then they too are enabled to become light-bearers. It is God’s will that the light of his truth and love should envelop the world. His will is done and whenever someone realizes that the light is within an that it is meant to be shared.”

Thank you, Beth, Chris and Fr. Ken for being light to me.

  • Who is light to you?
  • How are you called to be light to others?



  1. Cate-291547 May 10, 2011 Reply

    Amen and amen! What a wonderful post! Thank you!

  2. Sara-329369 April 20, 2011 Reply

    Great blog, Elizabeth – I completely agree! It’s what we have that matters and we have so many blessings if we open our eyes…

  3. Mary-272665 April 18, 2011 Reply

    Thank you for pointing out this contrast of how to really look at my life and who I am and what I have to offer the world. I am more than just a Catholic Single woman! Learning to think in those terms is a process. Thank you for reminding me to let my light shine!

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