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