Do It Anyway
What is your first response to this bit of wisdom which is attributed to Mother Teresa?
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are diligent and succeed, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Be diligent anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity, joy and contentment, some may be suspicious. Be happily content anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten by tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
You see, In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
At first I thought this seemed passive, as if it were telling us to numb out, do the right thing. and then not think about it. But the last line affected me deeply. This isn’t about being passive; it’s just the opposite. This is about being intentional. I know who I want to be and the kind of person I want to be, and nobody’s going to change that.
That phrase, “this is between you and God” also reminded me that we live to an “Audience of One.” That One is, of course, God and only God knows all and sees all, including the benefits and blessings that occur to myself and others when I do the right thing anyway.
I used to be rather rebellious—I didn’t want to do whatever I was told to do. But I’ve been learning that doing things God’s way works out better. (OK, so I’m still “feisty.”) I have a better life if I’m not resentful. I have more joy if I’m generous. I see how good my life is if I pause to be thankful. I’m not near as crabby if I let things go (in other words, forgive). Why would I want a high-drama life of criticism, jealousy, and judgment? Kindness is a lot more fun than self-absorption. God created our bodies and psyches and minds to run certain ways and so it’s smarter to cooperate with God’s ideas of what is good and right and pleasurable.
You may object that goodness and all that Mother Teresa jazz may be easier in the long run but in the moment it’s too difficult. But because “it’s between God and me,” God’s power is available to me. The Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. I just next the next small step and the path opens up: You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures evermore! (Psalm 16:11)
Grace and peace,
Coming March 2: New online course Listening to God in Prayer based on When the Soul Listens.
6 weeks (concurrent with Lent).
Each week features:
– short teaching,
– questions for group or individual reflection,
– an exercise to help you interact with God about listening in prayer.