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Alissa at the apex: humbly loving freely

Spreading Mother Teresa’s wisdom to give and receive love.
Alissa Van Dress
A magnolia tree reminds Alissa of Mother Teresa’s simple wisdom as it whisks in the wind on her path to class.

When I was 2 years old, I liked to pretend that I was running the household. When my parents would offer me help with any little thing, like unlocking the door that was too tall for me to reach or like putting on my tennis shoes before a day of messy child’s play, I would tell them, “I do it.” I couldn’t tie my shoes nor properly form a coherent sentence, albeit, but I could shove my baby foot in the tiny sole and that gave me satisfaction alone.

Even now, I struggle to ask for help and especially to receive help. My pride assures me that I can do it on my own and I’d just be a bother to the one offering me help. I lock myself up and tell people, “No, thanks,” when receiving help would have—well—helped me. I believed that to receive help would be selfish and a burden on the giver. But, I’ve now learned that receiving is as selfless as giving because we must abandon our ego and deny ourselves, our very being.

Mother Teresa, a beautiful soul who inspires my wisdom, said it best: “A life not lived for others is not a life.” Thus, the true glory of life comes not from receiving but from giving. To receive is to give one the glory. Both the giver and the receiver gain humility, which is a gift of mutual exchange. How could I not have realized that receiving help is not all about me? The person who gives the help gains, too.

This brings me to my next reflection on humility. Don’t show; just be. Helping someone just to look better is not true help. Instead, do it out of the kindness of your heart. Do it because it’s simply right. One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa aligns with this principle of simplicity: “Live simply, so others may simply live.” A meaningless life is full of the unnecessary. Living out of necessity is simple and allows us to humbly enjoy life and spread life out of love.

Love is in the same vein; humility is the first step to love. Mother Teresa illuminated this connection: “Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.” So, I strive to humbly give and receive as a way to understand and love. No longer am I left with loneliness, for I feel filled with everything I need to know: to deny oneself is the ultimate meaning of humility and its reward is loving freely.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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