4 thoughts on “choose always the hardest

  1. I love Mother T, but this is one I sort of don’t agree with, on a couple of levels.

    First, it harks back to the motivational slogan, “Better to aim high and miss the mark than to aim low and make it”. It sounds good, but life is a continuum, and while you can build on a small success, a grand and glorious failure can use up so much physical and spiritual capital that it’s hard to move on.

    Second, it makes one vulnerable to the “I’m humbler than thou and proud of it” syndrome. In the 1980s, Andrew Greeley commented that the rules of Catholicism made Catholics “the Marines of Christianity”, and subject to an insufferable pride…and he said that he could well imagine that God was not amused.

    Third, and avoiding both of these traps, the hardest path is exhausting. When I was able to undertake a meaningful fitness programme, I would always be tempted to push to the limits of my strength and endurance, every day. It was stupid; I actually lowered the level of fitness I could achieve by “burning” muscle tissue, rather than growing it.

    It’s not romantic or inspiring…but moderation really does allow us to scale they heights on which the narrowly focused expend themselves.

    • I do agree with all you are saying. The ALWAYS part should not be there 🙂

      But sometimes, I do find picking the harder option… to patient when I don’t want to be… to show up for kids club when I don’t want to… to use my money for someone who needs it instead of myself…

      I think that is where I like the challenge. But of course moderation is always the best choice.

    • I think, Lisa, that you draw an important distinction – one that I missed – with the use of the word “harder”.

      Sometimes it’s simple obligation. We have the duty to patience in normal circumstances, if we at all want to be Christ-like . Likewise the fulfillment of a promise to a child, a spouse, a friend, a colleague…or a stranger.

      But the last example – seeking out someone whose needs are greater than your own – that is where the Mother T gene (which I hope we all share!) kicks in. That is humility in action.

      And it is harder; but “hardest” would be asceticism, taking a functional vow of poverty, and most people can;’t do that without either failing and backing away from the whole exercise, or developing a burning resentment for the recipient.

      In a sense, I live that with the dogs, because they completely rule life. Today they all wanted to walk in the hours before dawn, because the cows were out and lowing (we live on open rangeland). This comes before breakfast, before morning ablutions, before everything (and today after a sleepless night in severe pain). And dinnertime is a 2-3 hour period of constant movement, and a hammering din.

      But I do make sure that I have some time and resources for myself; in the quiet times I write, or read, or work on the airplane I am building. I may be interrupted, but taking that break allows me to return refreshed.

      To practice total self-denial would really add little to their lives, and would take away, in that I would be less able to take care of them with a joyous and refreshed heart. Does that make sense?

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