C. is an ordinary person with a wonderful witness to the faith. She strives everyday to overcome the common fears we all face in wanting to follow Christ more unreservedly. Here is what she wrote about some of her journey thus far.
For most of my adult life I have felt like I’ve “buried my coins”. Not that I’ve been a bad person, but I know I haven’t used my gifts to their full potential. I’m trying to pick up the slack now, but sometimes I find that on the tail of every inspiration to do something good, there is that little voice of objection that says, “Why bother?”
“Why bother offering up sacrifices. Yours are too small to matter.”
“So what if unethical things are happening where you work? You can’t fight the system."
“Why pray? You’re not a priest/nun. You’re prayers aren’t important.”
There are dozens of ways to gently discourage yourself from doing anything good…ever. You can ponder just how bad the culture is and just throw your hands helplessly in the air. I can’t change the world, right?
You can distract yourself by indulging your own discouragement. Who doesn’t enjoy a good pity-party, blowing the sad little party favors of despair (*tweept*).
My most distracting thought of all is, if I do (insert blank) for God, it might lead me somewhere I don’t want to go, somewhere where there are relationships and responsibilities and commitments.
The only way I manage to do anything in life is by swatting these objections immediately away and dealing with things one day at a time. Didn’t Christ say there is trouble enough in today? I recall Mark Twain saying that worrying is like paying interest on a debt you may never owe. I try not to squander the courage God gives me by worrying about all the undesirable things I may have to do if I decide to follow Him wherever He leads.
So what if I’m not up to the task? Can any of us ever conclude that we’re “good” enough to do something great for God? Mother Theresa and St. Faustina argued (directly!) with Jesus that they were too weak, foolish, and sinful to do what He was asking of them. Jesus responded that their weakness was their only qualification, and that when they succeeded the world would know that it was God’s work and not theirs. If God still used them, why not the rest of us?
Maybe all of the objections buzzing around my head are true. Maybe I’m not smart enough, good enough, witting, charming, or brave enough to do anything important for God. I don’t care.
I’ve concluded that the perfect faith and confidence I’m waiting for isn’t coming, so I’ve stopped waiting. I’ll accept the possibility of humiliation and failure. (I hesitatingly recall another saying: “Maybe the whole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others!”) I’m not going to expect everything I do to be perfect because most successes are messy anyway.
I’m not going to wallow in my own discouragement. Maybe the world is just as big a mess as it appears. Well, God doesn’t ask the impossible, and He’s had mercy on us this long. Maybe my generation still has a chance to fix things. I don’t think anyone wants to say on their deathbed, “Well, at least I played it safe.” We should want to be heroes! We have to plow ahead with whatever God puts in our path and ignore our own objections. If you’re in a state of grace, then charge on; God will work around your warts. We have to pray, hope, and trust. Like Mother Teresa once said, “God wants to do great things with you. Don’t get in His way.”