The more I think about 
the human suffering in our world 
and my desire to offer a healing response, 
the more I realize 
how crucial it is not to allow myself 
to become paralyzed by feelings 
of impotence and guilt.
 
More important than ever 
is to be very faithful to my vocation 
to do well the few things I am called to do 
and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. 
I must resist the temptation 
to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair 
and make me one more of their many victims. 

I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus 
and on those who followed him 
and trust that I will know
how to live out my mission 
to be a sign of hope in this world.

- Henri Nouwen

These words from one of my favorite authors really resonate with me today. It is so easy for me to become paralyzed by feelings of impotence and guilt. We are not all the same, of course, and I know many people who are fueled by anger, which can be a powerful force for re-forming our world. Sometimes, I wish that were true of me, but it is simply not how I am wired. Truthfully, I tend to feel anxiety and guilt before I feel anger. And these feelings can be paralyzing, as opposed to motivating. So, for me, it is important to recognize this about myself, and to live by this teaching from Henri Nouwen.

So, today I renew my resolve to be faithful to my vocation, and to do the few things that I am called to do as well as I can. I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and trust that I will know how to live out my mission to be a sign of hope in this world.

And when I am not sure whether I am doing this, I will remind myself of a prayer from another of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, who trusts in this prayer that the desire to please God is itself pleasing to God. And all that I can ever hope and pray for is that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

My Lord God, 
I have no idea where I am going.  
I do not see the road ahead of me.  
I cannot know for certain where it will end.  

Nor do I really know myself, 
and the fact that I think that I am following your will 
does not mean that I am actually doing so.  

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road 
though I may know nothing about it.  

Therefore I will trust you always 
though I may seem to be lost 
and in the shadow of death. 

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, 
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

- Thomas Merton

2 thoughts on “The Few Things

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