I take Sebastian for walks in the local parks. While we’re at it I pick up trash. There are a few regulars in the neighborhood that I know by their daily trash. There is the guy that smokes a cheap cigar and drops the package, the person who buys a Big Gulp and seems to finish it when passing St. Sebastian, and the young folks having sports practice in the field invariably leaving behind full water bottles. (Get the picture? Litter in the park?)
Now, I have two choices. One choice is to be upset and angry about something over which I have very little control. I could curse the malefactors, decry the state of civilization, allow myself to dwell on anger, disgust, and dream of vengeance and then my reward will be an ugly mood.
I could say a prayer of thanks to God that there was this opportunity to be of service to my neighbors, to be humbled, and to serve my God. “If it weren’t for this trash, I would not have been able to grow in holiness at this moment. Thank you God and bless the person who mindlessly dropped this.”
In the end, person of free will, it is up to you. Do you want to be miserable or do you want to be content?
What habit do you have that drives someone you love insane? You can refuse to change. You can do so reluctantly and resentfully. Or you can thank God that you have something to great to give this person in order to show them how much you love them. What is it, at the end of the day, do you want to look back and see yourself as?
What about an addiction to computers, drink, food, television, matters of the heart, in other words something that you really, really don’t want to give up but that you know you should. It is going to be very difficult. Part of the difficulty is that you really don’t want to give the thing up at all. But in that very moment, in the very teeth of it, you have the power to love more ferociously than anybody else. You have more to give than 10 other people. Even if it is better for you, it is still a sacrifice to give it up. What a way to show love to God and those who are special to you. Now, you could focus on how resentful you are - for having to give it up - at God for allowing you have this weakness to overcome - at others for expecting it - and your reward will be that it is more difficult and you are more resentful. Or you can focus on the opportunity given to show greater love than you ever have before, that you have more to give, and that you show yourself that you are love.