Evil calls to evil; it calls on itself.
Good calls to good; it calls out to itself.
They reside side by side;
Neither will the other abide.
The thing I say is not the thing I want to say…
The thing I write is not the thing I want to write…
The thing I do is not the thing I want to do…
the one to whom I speak,
the one to whom I write,
the one for whom I do,
is a child I love.
That’s the way I love you, He said.
I speak as I do,
write as I do,
do for you as I do,
because, my child, I love you like that.
Grow me in that love, Father.
Help me grow in the love that speaks
goodness to all whom you call children.
Mother Teresa said,
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Frankly, I like to think of myself as a big thing do-er. Don’t bother me with the small stuff. If just anyone can do it, well then, let them. Don’t bother me. I’m saving myself for the one thing only I can do. Pretty arrogant, huh? Not only that, but it leaves me totally frozen in my tracks. Because how in the world do you get started on such a big thing without attending to the small?
So this Lent I have embarked on doing one small thing each day “out of the goodness of my heart.” I wrote in (this post) about realizing right away that my heart wasn’t nearly so good as I thought it was. This week I have been looking at Mother Teresa’s words and her example.
“We can only do small things with great love.”
Great love? I don’t have that either. But wouldn’t you know that sometimes when I do these small things, big stuff comes of it? Or at least it seems big to me. An encouraging email I send gets an immediate response and opens another opportunity. A kind word I offer gets smiles and opens up another conversation. A prayer I lift suggests an idea I never would have thought of but now may become a blessing of community to many.
Now where did that big stuff come from? Me? No way. The things I did were small. Trust me, exceedingly small. But they are at the bequest of the One who whispers in my ear all the time. Wendy, why don’t you….? And so I have. What have I got to lose? It’s just small stuff.
But isn’t it the small stuff we remember? The kind word, the welcome invitation, the nice note or phone call, the person who came by, the kid who sat with us when no one else would. These were small things, but for some reason they have stayed with us. In our hearts they have grown to be big things. Certainly way bigger than the acts themselves. Those people weren’t trying to change us, but, in fact, they have.
The truth I am hearing is, if I were to set out today to make a big difference in someone’s life or a big splash in the world, I would not know where to begin. And the weight of such responsibility would crush me. Imagine, though, what God might so with small things done in His love. It is this, after all, which suggests it to me in that mini voice in my ear.
He really doesn’t ask much. But then the words of my middle school social studies teacher weren’t much. I’m sure he doesn’t even recall saying, “Wendy, there’s something about your writing.”
I could never have known what those words would come to mean. Neither could he. It was a small thing. But I remember them. That’s what the spirit of love does, it brings things to mind.
What small thing has been a source of great love in your life? Would you please share it in the comments? I would be so grateful.
You know, small things add up. Just ask the weatherman who is predicting 4-8 inches of snow! Oh Goodness!!
I just dropped my daughter off at an early morning activity. She got out with her gear, shut the door and headed on her way. I almost opened my car door to call after her, “You’re welcome!” Because she should have thanked me for the ride. She usually does. Today she didn’t. But this isn’t about her, it’s about me.
I don’t give her rides for the thanks. At least I did’t think I did. Until I heard myself thinking, “Here I am, doing this out of the goodness of my heart, and look how you respond. You are so ungrateful!”
And right there I blew it. If I truly offered the ride out of the good place in my heart, I would not be hurt by any response. My reaction showed me the un-good that was seeping in. Back to the drawing board.
Funny, when I arrived at this dedication for Lent, ‘to do one Goodness each day,’ I thought it would be easy. I mean, how hard can it be, each day to do one thing out of the goodness of my heart? And how nice to go through my day looking for some good to do, some mitzvah, some secret mission or service project. It gave me a good feeling inside.
Until I realized how few things I really did out of that good place, the place absent of expectations from the other. Especially when I did them “for” people close to me.
Oh, but it gets worse. Some of this “good doing” was actually the opposite of good. In some cases the real good to be done was withholding the doing. The good was letting the other experience the consequences or learn the lesson. That didn’t feel good at all, it felt hard. Nearly impossible. But wouldn’t it be just like God to show me the hard thing in the midst of the easy thing I set out to do?
All I could think about was Paul’s dooby-dooby-do (my adjective) verse from Romans 7″18-19.
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Left to my own devices, counting on my own nature, even the good I thought I was doing wasn’t good. Because there were strings attached. Expectations laid. Sin was at hand.
So I plow on deeper into Lent. I am starting to get it. The goodness in my heart is not mine but His. It’s in there, I know it. But letting His Good initiate, carry out and follow up on the things that I do is quite a difficult thing.
But I’m an endurance athlete. In this for the long haul. Perhaps that’s the only thing God and I have in common. He promises not to give up on me. And that, above all else, keeps me holding onto Him. Because He has no good reason for that. Except the goodness in His heart.
It’s really hard to believe, but my heart tells me it is so.