A lesson for all ages and times

September 21, 2009

I’ve noticed an interesting difference between my girls. Claire is an encourager. When Ella is attempting to do something, Claire cheers her on.  And if Ella happens to be better at doing something than Claire, well, Claire still encourages her and praises her. This happens a lot when it comes to certain physical activities. Ella is naturally more athletic. Surprisingly, I can’t recall a time when Claire ever seemed jealous of her sister when she was able to do something and Claire couldn’t. I like this quality in Claire and I hope she never changes.

Ella, on the other hand, has a hard time when she can’t perform as well as someone else.  Usually her reaction includes these words,  “I can’t…I don’t…I’ll never be able…Why is she better?…I don’t have…I’m not smart enough…”  Honestly, it can be a frustrating thing to deal with. Of course when appropriate we try to use these as “teaching moments, ” teaching her about being grateful for what she can do, to be content with the natural abilities God has given her… etc. Of course, there’s only so much you can do to reason with a five year old so I’m hoping that with age she outgrows this. However, something I read in that Holy Abandonment book reminded me it’s not necessarily something we outgrow with age. It seems that often God has to reason with us grown ups and remind us of these very same truths as we navigate different passages of life.

The text I read is long but  it’s worth sharing the whole thing. You can tell by the language and style that it was written a while ago but it’s still a lesson for all ages and all times.

We should all be content with the gifts and talents wherewith Providence has endowed us, and no one should ever permit himself to complain of the fact that he has not received as much intelligence or skill as another, or that his strength hs been impaired by over-work, years or illness…because even the most gifted have always some defects which oblige them to practice resignation and humility…

In this matter, just as in everything else, we are bound to conform ourselves to the will of God, to be satisfied with the talents which He has given us, and with the conditions in which He has placed us. Therefore we should not wish to be wiser, more skillful, or held in higher esteem than is in accordance with His good-pleasure. If we are not so liberally endowed as some others, if we have some natural defect of body or mind, an unprepossessing exterior, or disabled limb, poor health, a treacherous memory, a slow intelligence, a weak judgment…we must not complain or murmur…nor must we envy those endowed with the qualities we lack. A person would show very bad taste by taking offense because the present given him as a pure favor was not as rich or as beautiful as he would have liked. Was God obliged to give us a more brilliant mind or a better body? Could He have not created us in a condition less favorable still…Have we merited as much as He has bestowed upon us? No, it is a pure largess of His bounty to which we are immensely indebted. Who would complain of a gratiuity he has received? Let us, then, suppress this miserable pride which would make us ingrates, and humbly thank the Lord for the gifts He has been pleased to grant us.

In the distribution of natural talents God is not obliged to respect our facllacious principles of equality. Under no obligation to anyone, He remains absolute Master of His benefits. He is guilty of no injustice when he gives more to some and less to others.  His wisdom directs Him to bestow on each as much as is required fro the charge He will to entrust to him. The artisan makes his instruments of the size, weight, and form best suited for the work in which he means to employ them. In the same manner, God gives us our different minds and talents according to the service He has designed for us and the degree of glory He intends to derive therefrom…Above all else, He seeks the good of our souls, or rather His one exclusive object is to procure His own glory by our sanctification. And like Him, we, too, ought to see in all His gifts, natural and supernatural, only the means to glorify the Giver by sanctifying ourselves.

Rt. Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, Holy Abandonment, pp. 191-193

 

 

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Do I really believe?

June 11, 2009

…nothing happens in this world but by the order of God, or at least by His divine permission. All He wills or permits turns infallibly to the advantage of submissive and resigned souls. Even that which upsets our spiritual plans turns into something which is better for us. (Fr. Jean-Pierre De Caussade)

If I really believed this…

…I’d complain less about my circumstances

…I wouldn’t worry nearly as much about what comes next in life

….I’d spend less time placing hope in my idols and illusions and more time resting in the peace that comes with trusting our sovereign and holy God

…I’d trust that He really is working all things together for my eternal good and His eternal glory

Once again I pray… Lord I believe, now help me in my unbelief.


God’s Will

January 27, 2009

The blood of Christ reveals God’s gracious will, which neither wants nor seeks anything but that we be made holy. Whatever he gives or permits is given out of love so that we may be made holy in him.  This is how the truth is fulfilled.

St. Catherine of Siena

 

Your will for me God is holiness–that is, for me to love like you. So, whatever comes my way, whether it be good, bad or even tragic, help me to accept it as a means to that end. Let my heart always be prepared to love no matter the circumstance, no matter the cost. Give me eyes that see this eternal purpose in each situation I encounter today and give me the grace to follow the way of love through obedient faith.  Amen.


But what if…?

December 20, 2007
  • What if I lose my job and can’t pay the bills?
  • What if my husband dies and leaves me a widow?
  • What if the doctor discovers it’s cancer?
  • What if there’s a military draft and my son or daughter is sent overseas?
  • What if I fail? 

What if _________? You fill in the blank.

What do you worry about? What makes you anxious? What are your what ifs?

*** 

In his book Catholic Matters, Richard John Neuhaus writes, “To be obsessed with what ifs is to remain captive to fear.” Neuhaus was referring specifically to the what ifs he faced before deciding to become Catholic. But his comment is applicable to life in general.

My friend Tina shared a blog post about “future tripping.” Basically it’s about taking trips in our minds to the future–trips that make us anxious, trips that play on our fears and steal our peace. It’s a good post. I recommend reading it.

The Nehaus quote and that post got me to thinking about my own what ifs.

  • What if God doesn’t grant me the desire of my heart and give me more children?
  • What if Scott changes jobs and it means leaving behind family, friends and our parish family we’re growing closer to each week?
  • What if something terrible happens to my girls?
  • What if ________? I have more. Some that are so silly that I don’t even want to share.

*** 

What do you fear? What are the what ifs that hold you captive? How are others held captive by your fears and what ifs?

Scripture tells us that  “perfect love casts out fear.”  It would seem that fear is incompatible with love.  Of course there are some circumstances that warrant a healthy fear or respect for safety. And we should always exercise wisdom. But I think many of our what if fears don’t warrant the worry, thought and control we try to have over our circumstances.  No, if I say I love God then I must trust in His perfect love for me and trust that he has my best intersts at heart. I must surrender my what ifs.

“But what if I surrender and he lets my worst fear happen?”

Yep, He wants me to surrender that what if too.

I must remember that in  God’s economy perfect love really does cast out fear and surrender brings true freedom. I can surrender my what ifs, rest in his perfect love and walk in true freedom. Or I can remain captive to my what ifs and my fears. It’s my choice. It’s your choice too.


Ouch!

October 26, 2007

It’s said that the following prayer was prayed over Henri Nouwen by his spiritual director.

 May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

Amen

Ouch!

I don’t think I like this prayer much. In fact, I think if I asked someone to pray for me and they prayed this prayer I’d probably say, “thanks but no thanks.” Nope, my flesh doesn’t like this prayer at all. Probably because what it’s really about is complete self-abandonment.

Self-abandonment: It’s only when we have surrendered ourselves, our resources, our plans and our expectations that we are free; free to depend completely on Him, free to dance and sing before Him and to love and serve Him no matter the circumstances. 

I have so far to go when it comes to abandoning my will and seeking only after His; when it comes to abandoning my plans, my desires, my expectation and my needs and becoming poor in Spirit. But I know that when I am broken, poor and at the end of myself it is then that I begin to identify with Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Matthew 5:3

In what ways do you need to abandon yourself today, tomorrow and next week so that you can become like a child– poor, weak and completely dependent on Him?