Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Remedy

The finitude of human love, coupled with a restricted capacity to truly give freely of ourselves and a diminished capacity for self-possession and therefore, self-offering, sets human relationships up for some unavoidable speed bumps.

The poverty of uplifting, complimentary speech in most people's everyday lives has a twofold effect: kind words and affirmations are often desperately desired (and therefore jealously guarded), and very few people seem to know how, exactly, to graciously accept a compliment. Gracious acceptance denotes an element of the supernatural if you examine the etymology of the word grace:

C."God's favor or help," from O.Fr. grace "pleasing quality, favor, good will, thanks," from L. gratia "pleasing quality, good will, gratitude," Sense of "virtue" is that of "beauty of form or movement, pleasing quality" . Verb meaning "to show favor" (c.1440) led to that of "to lend or add grace to something"Gracious as an exclamation (1713) is short for gracious God, etc. n

Anything that is good, true or beautiful in this world is a foretaste of what is to come in the next, so any attempt on our parts at false humility really comes down to pride. By the same reasoning, jealousy or envy of another's beauty or goodness is ridiculous when one considers the source of that beauty and goodness: God. So much energy is wasted when we focus inward, dwelling on our own poverty and shortcomings when confronted with greatness in someone or something else.

It's so disordered and so diabolically brilliant. Real goodness cannot be hidden, is unalterable and undeniable. We, on the other hand, can be altered. Whenever we give ourselves over to disordered pride or jealousy or lust we are being altered, circumventing the natural, intended reaction which goodness is designed to produce in us. After enough practice, we can perfect an automatic response of resentment and envy, unable to appreciate what we do not ourselves own. The real irony is that not one of us, not the most beautiful, talented, brilliant, athletically-inclined human being on the planet, not one of us can claim responsibility for the way we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We can make good use of the gifts we've been given, we can surgically and chemically alter our physical appearances, attempting to reshape and rework what is unacceptable, but the simple fact remains: we are not self-created, and we can't take credit (or pass blame!) for someone Else's handiwork.

Free will factors beautifully into this equation, inviting our unhindered response to the world around us and, by proxy, to the Author of the world. See something beautiful in someone else? Tell Him so, thank Him for revealing that particular aspect of His nature through her smile or his laughter or the color of that sunset. See something lacking in yourself? Praise Him for the mercy of being able to recognize your own incompleteness and allow it to whet your appetite for Heaven. St. Therese said it best: "How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God's mercy."

Don't resent the goodness you perceive is someone else, rather, allow it to draw your focus toward eternity, desiring more of the same and not less. Resentment says, in effect, if I can't have it, nobody can.

And when someone tells you you're beautiful, say thank you, and give credit where credit is due.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite examples of this attitude is also from Therese. She states(paraphrasing) that she was glad she was Therese and not Mary because then she is able to love Mary. She was so thankful that Mary WAS Mary and was so glad just to be able to have her to love. So many struggle with that- not just with eachother- but with God too. They'd rather be God and do not love the fact that God is God and they are themselves and able to love Him. Great post Jenny.


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