You Do You

Jun 05, 2024 by Colleen C Orchanian

I have been riding motorcycles for over 35 years and I'm very skilled. My husband and I live in the mountains and are used to riding curvy mountain roads. Sometimes we rode with people from Florida who were not used to the curves, so I would lead them through until they felt comfortable going at a faster pace. When they thought they were ready (even if they weren't), they would pass me and take off. That's okay – You do you. I'm here to help, but each rider is responsible for their own ride.

God often takes the same approach with us. He leads and allows us to take off when we think we can go it alone. It's called free will. He gives us his commandments but doesn't force them. He invites us to follow Him but doesn't drag us along. Sometimes we defiantly go our own way – and God permits it. You do you. Free will.

You do you can be spiritually dangerous when we decide that we don't need God to lead the way. At the same time, You do you can be spiritually beneficial when we take that approach to our unique relationship with God.

The spiritually dangerous You Do You:

God says, Here are my commandments and I decide that they are optional. When Jesus is asked about divorce, he tells the crowd that Moses permitted it because of their hardness of heart. It's like a parent who says no, no, no, no, no, and finally the child wears them down and they say Fine! God didn't say Fine – Moses did. God calls us to holiness, but we are weak. We can rationalize our sins in many ways, but they remain sins. You do you means I continue to sin. And not only that, I might take that approach with those I love who follow a bad path. I'm not saying we should nag them to behave, but we should speak God's truth to them. It's okay to tell someone that their behavior is bad for their soul before we say You do you.

Another spiritually dangerous You do You is when we adapt our spiritual life and practices based on how we feel. I don't feel like praying tonight so I skip it. I don't feel like going to church so I skip it. If I'm not feeling it, I convince myself that God doesn't want it that way, so why bother? Prayer and worship are what we owe to God, whether we feel it or not. It is dangerous to only pray when I feel like it, to only spend time with God when I feel like it. If a relationship is important only when I feel a certain way, it's not much of a relationship, whether that's a friendship, a marriage, or our relationship with God. You do you (or I will do me) is a selfish approach. And we are called to more.

The Spiritually Good You Do You:

ou do you is good and right when we adapt our spiritual life and practices following God's inspiration. Each of us has a unique relationship with God and we should not all follow the same spiritual path or keep the same spiritual practices. It's not a one-size-fits-all relationship. This is where You do you works.

You do you is good spiritually when we adapt our prayer practices to our life and vocation. St. Ignatius of Loyola shows us the way in the Spiritual Exercises. The original Exercises were written for those in monasteries who could be on retreat for 30 days. But some who came to him for spiritual direction could not take 30 days, so he created variations called "Annotations." I completed the 19th Annotation, which means there were at least 18 other ways to do the Exercises. The 19th Annotation takes about 9 months to complete instead of 30 days. Ignatius said, You do you. The point is to complete the exercises. It doesn't matter if it takes 30 days or 9 months. When we know the purpose of something, we can adapt it to our life situation by maintaining the purpose but changing the methods.

You do you prayer is important. I can hear how another person does morning prayer and think – I have to do it that way, too. But that may not be right for me. My sister, Dorothy, prays all of the hours in the Divine Office. I only pray one. Who's doing it right? My father prayed the St. Brigid prayers every day for years. I have never prayed them. Who's doing it right? I have friends who pray the Angelus at noon each day. I don't. Who's right? Maybe we are all right. You do you. We each choose the forms of prayer that are right for us based on God's leading.

You do you is good spiritually when we discern where God is calling us to serve. There will always be needs – places we can do God's work. Your passion may be for life. Another person is passionate about teaching children. Yet another serves the elderly and homebound. We cannot do it all so we have to choose which area God wants us to work, where He wants us to spend our time and use our gifts. When someone asks you to volunteer, pray about it. Is God calling you to that ministry? If you discern that He is not, it's okay to say that. You do you. There is no guilt in serving (or not serving) in a particular area.

You do you is good spiritually when it comes to our gifts and charisms. Satan has a subtle tactic when he tells us we should have a particular spiritual gift and we don't. My friend Linda has the gift of healing. Although my work in spiritual direction is a type of healing ministry, it's not the same as Linda's gift. So I thought, I'm supposed to have that gift, too and I don't. What's wrong with me? All of that comes from the enemy. Scripture says that the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to each of us for His purpose (1 Corinthians 12). God is saying, You do you. Use the gifts I gave to you. Don't worry about the gifts of others. Appreciate them. Admire them. Praise God for them. But you do you.

You do you is good spiritually when we follow the path God has made for us without worrying about the path set for others. When Jesus told Peter how he (Peter) would die, Peter asked: What about him (meaning John)? He wanted to know if John was going to suffer and die, too. Jesus answered, What's that to you? You follow me. It's normal to compare our struggles or suffering with others, but Jesus says no. You do you. Don't worry about anyone else. This is what I have for you. Accept it. Receive it. I know what is best for you.

In the spiritual life, we want to be flexible without being casual. When I'm casual, I fit God in when I feel like it, as if God doesn't matter. I am still doing what I want to do without sacrificing my will to God's will. That's casual. When I'm flexible, I adapt to the circumstances of my life. I allow God to lead the way in my spiritual journey so that I can become who He has created me to be.

We are each unique. We look different, we love differently, we have differing gifts, and we have different wounds and brokenness. God doesn't expect us to all be the same. He wants us to live our uniqueness as we serve Him. That is how you do you works best. Let God lead you to become the person you were created to be.

Questions for prayer:

  1. When has You do you been spiritually harmful to you? What lies were you believing that led you down the wrong path?

  2. Where can you take more of a You do you approach in your spiritual life? Are there areas where you are following others without seeking God's unique will for you?