If we cooperate with Grace, it’s a simple press forward, combined with three true things.
Warren Buffet’s advice over Twitter is one part motivation-speech and one part American can-doism, but it works because it is true in any application, be it in business, or arts and letters, or even in the life of faith.
Because even among our fellow Christians, even within this Church we believe is the Bride of Christ and the vessel of his communion outreach, we can experience injustice and abuse. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, we can be scalded by the bad faith, self-interest, closed hearts, and sharp tongues of the very group of people among whom we work and pray.
It’s all part of the fallenness and the brokenness we must deal with every day in the world — and work to overcome, in ourselves. But Buffet is correct: It’s okay. If we are listening to Christ Jesus, and if we are practicing humility, then yes, “it’s OK.”
Here are three true things about living, working, praying and communing in a broken society, both secular and sacred:
Truth: There is no point to comparisons, and no reason to feel as though you are less than anyone else, no matter how much more successful they seem to be. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does. All that matters is what I am called to do, and that I do it.
In the process of writing Little Sins Mean a Lot, I came to realize that we have no work of our own, that “all the work before you is God’s work,” the task that has been assigned to you in that particular moment, however dreary or humble, or profound. However “little” or “big” the work, it is the work of God, passed through your cooperative heart and mind.
Truth: Whether we get the credit we deserve, or the blame we do not deserve, Jesus knows what is true. He holds what is true, because he is All Truth. The world is unjust, and it was unjust to him, too.
Sometimes people will advance or fall back in ways that seem unfathomable to us. Sometimes the falling back will happen to you. It’s okay. Never forget the words of the great saint, Philip Neri: “All of God’s purposes are to the good; although we may not always understand this we can trust in it.”
He said something else, equally important: “Hate no one. God never comes where there is no love for our neighbors.” As tempting as it is to lick your wounds, don’t let bitterness grow within you.
Truth: We do not serve our own ambitions; we serve the Crucified Lord, who calls us. He has gifted each of us in specific ways, imbued us with particular talents, and then called us to use them for the advancement of his plans and purposes, and for his Kingdom.
All we have to do is offer them back to him, in trust and faith. All we have to do is be willing, and to do the work before us, for which we have been equipped.
Keep working? For sure.
Keep pushing? If we cooperate with Grace, it’s a simple press forward.
As to “overcoming” things, well, Jesus does that for us, and brings us along. Whenever I feel completely distressed or anxious, or I feel like there are nothing but bad options or negative circumstances before me, I do three things:
- I look to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and imagine myself taking all of those anxieties, all of those shadows, and stuffing them right into the very core of that great Heart, where they are burned away in Christ’s own time.
- I turn to Our Lady of Charity — increasingly my own Mother — and ask for her prayers. Not just for the easing of my fears but for an increase in my own Charity, especially toward those who are (knowingly or unknowingly) contributing to my unrest.
- I recall the words of Betsy Ten Boom to her sister Corrie, when they were imprisoned in the Ravensbruck prison, under vicious Nazis as detailed in Corrie’s book, The Hiding Place. “There is no pit so deep that Jesus is not deeper, still.” And later, when a guard lashed at Betsy, drawing blood, “Do not look at it,” she counseled her angry sister. “Look at Jesus, only.”
The victory is always his.
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