Self-Talk When Things Seem Too Good To Be True

I’m having a bit of a moment right now. As they might say on the Simpsons, everything is coming up Katie:

  • My business is right where I want it, volume- and project-wise, and I even started some work with my former employer
  • I was recognized on LinkedIn for some volunteer work I do, and the reaction was really gratifying
  • MY KIDS ARE (somewhat) BACK IN SCHOOL!
  • I submitted an essay about 2020 for an ebook. The editor and my big brother both loved it
  • My mom and stepdad have both had their second vaccinations. I’m scheduling hugs for next week
  • Mike continues to be lovely and wonderful (nothing new there, but he should be in any of my lists of blessings)
  • I just pulled a rhubarb crisp out of the oven using the last fruit of 2020 from my freezer. Mike’s sister is coming to grill out on this 60-degree March day. The house smells so good
  • I got three hardcover best sellers out of a Little Free Library last week, including The Vanishing Half, which I’ve almost finished. It is so good.

I went looking for a good Father Clay homily on gratitude. There might be one out there, but I couldn’t find it. And then I thought about the primary lesson my kids both learned in First Communion classes at St. Stan’s: God wants us to be happy.

It’s such a powerful mantra, and I lean on it when I think I have things too good. When I’m waiting for the fall that comes after a bit too much pride. I can say, yes I’m proud but I’m also aware of how much work there is to do. When a little voice in my head tells me this feeling of well-being can’t last, I can answer back that I can handle the ebb and flow of my conditions. When I tell myself that I don’t deserve to feel this good, I remind myself that God wants us to be happy.

Covid hasn’t gone away yet, and so many people are suffering still. I feel grateful that I’ve got the time and clarity to reflect on things like well being and happiness, and to think about how to be a better human. I like this letter from Father Clay as he talks about how to continually examine ourselves and our choices to help bring about a state of heaven on earth.

Our Human Condition: Power

Entering the reign of God calls us to use our power to help people flourish, that is, to help them grow more fully and completely human. We are made in the image and likeness of God. When we grow in humanness, we are becoming more like God in a human way.

The power that we humans have varies greatly depending on our talents and the position we hold in society. For example, parents and children are all part of the same family. Parents have power that is different from that of their children. They use their power well when they help their children flourish by setting appropriate boundaries along with giving them freedom and opportunities. There are of course times to be firm, but love and respect must always be present. It takes a high level of understanding to do this well.

The principles of using power wisely apply in a similar way in our society and our church. We all have the power to some degree. When we use power in ways that hinder people from flourishing, we are not living in the reign of God.

Power has the potential of being very addictive. It can be used to satisfy our inflated ego needs. It can be used to satisfy inordinate needs for money. When we use power in these ways, we hurt people and at the same time (without realizing it) we hurt ourselves. Our spirit that is the core of our humanness shrinks.

Power gives us great opportunities to do much good. At the same time, it can easily get us off the track. We need to be aware of the consequences of our actions. To use power well, we must be willing to listen with compassion. We must maintain our awareness that people under our authority are human beings like ourselves.

I remember talking to a young priest years ago about ministry. He said, “Aren’t there times when you must speak firmly to people?” I told him, “Yes, but only after they know we love them.”

Excerpted from the letter “The Jesus Story” in Mysterious Love by Father John Clay (C) 2015

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