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Broken? – Stanza XIII – Part II

August 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

“Take up your cross” You tell us still;
in this is our salvation won.
Not by strength or mighty actions,
but little things, done with great love.


The words “…but little things, done with great love.” in this stanza were inspired by St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Mother Teresa. Both are very good examples of the kind of souls God sends into the world to help us find, and stay, on the narrow path. Because she lived during my lifetime, and because of the images of her with the poor that are burned into my brain, Mother Teresa of Calcutta jumps to the forefront as I am writing, and I’d like to share a poem frequently credited to her*, titled Anyway with you.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

This last line reminds me of what Fr. Pinto, founder and spiritual father of the Disciples of Jesus and Mary, tells us about our meeting Jesus when we die. Nobody else will be there to speak on our behalf! The devil will be there though, in his role as the accuser, and you can bet that he will remember each and every one of our shortcomings and sins… minute detail. Our Lady will be there as well, interceding for us as she always does. But none of the people we try to impress or please in life will be there; not our families, not our friends, no one. Understanding this makes it much easier for me to put my focus on trying to please God alone.

Do little things with great love! This is such good advice. For years I would remember that someone’s birthday was coming up, and I would make a mental note to call them or send a card. But right on the heels of those simple things would come ideas to make them cookies and put them in a nice basket with a pretty homemade napkin…..or other similar things that took up a lot of time, and required items I did not have on hand. The result was usually that, not only did the basket of goodies not get made, but because of my grand plans I was embarrassed to follow through on the ‘little things’ (card or phone call), and ended up doing nothing!!! I spent a lot of time thinking about the person, and I had good intentions of doing something nice for them, but they never knew. Now, I make the phone call, or send a card or email. Thank you God!

Random acts of kindness are another example of little things we can do with great love. My favorites are things I can do in secret! I am always happy for the opportunity to help people, but there is a special delight in it for me if I can do it without anyone knowing. I believe that’s because this is what Jesus was telling us to do in Matthew 6:5-6, there is much grace in being lovingly obedient.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Obedience is another area where we can profit greatly by doing small things out of love. Obedience is hard for us today because our society finds no value in it; we are encouraged rather, to think for ourselves. When we apply this to our faith, believing that we can decide on our own what we want to accept or reject, and I’ve done more than my share of this, we are begging for trouble. It’s really no different from what Adam and Eve did in turning away from what God had told them, choosing to believe the snake instead!! And we all know how that worked out!! In Acts 5:32 we learn that God has given the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.

“We are witnesses of these things,
as is the holy spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”

Conversely, that means that the Holy Spirit is not given to those who disobey. If we put our minds to it, it’s not hard to find ways to make small sacrifices in order to be obedient. One of the hardest, but most profitable ways I have done this is by accepting and honoring my husband as the head of the household. This is certainly not something encouraged by the radical feminist movement……but I have been greatly blessed by accepting my vocation and the order that God established. Strange as it sounds, I have found peace in surrendering my understanding of the way things ‘ought’ to be, and trying instead to learn from the reality of what God has allowed to happen. This is only possible when we trust that God really is smarter than we are, and that He knows how it all turns out. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says:

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

The ‘cross’ that Jesus refers to here is the persecution and trials that come to us when we live as His disciples in a fallen world. People will hate us because they hated Him. Persecutions were promised if we followed Jesus; we will be mocked and laughed at. It is precisely this process of enduring the persecutions, and yet continuing to trust in Him and His promises to make the suffering worth the effort, that makes up the ‘cross’ that Jesus speaks of.

If this is difficult work for those who are relatively healthy and whole from an emotional and spiritual perspective, it is impossible for those who suffer from the effects of trauma, abuse and neglect. Those who are dealing with mental/emotional disorders from the aforementioned causes, or for other reasons, are at a great disadvantage because they have not been taught two key truths. First, their emotions are good – all of them – because God gave them to us. Secondly, their emotions need to be subjected to the guidance of reason and will. Thus, they often react emotionally, like children, rather than being able to respond in a rational manner.

Once again, scripture provides a solution. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus tells us:

“For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

As I learn what the chains of trauma, abuse, and neglect have done in my life, I truly see the hand of God reaching down into my dark prison to free me. He helps me to see the lies I was taught, or accepted in a desperate need to survive, and He replaces them with the Truth. But before any of this was possible, I needed to know that God was real, that He really did love me, and that I could trust Him. That took a lot of doing, but He never gave up on me, and I am grateful beyond words for the mercy and love that He pours out on us moment by moment, every day of our lives.

God’s love for us is NOT too good to be true. It’s SO good that it MUST be true!

Love & Prayers,

This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published. They can also be found at Tending The Vineyard.

The poem Anyway has been widely credited to Blessed Mother Teresa, but apparently, it is an adaptation of the Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith.  

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a "re-formed Catholic" who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be "fully Catholic" What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. "I've heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, 'If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.' I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to "make straight the path of the Lord", and with his role as "Friend of the Bridegroom". The poem, "Broken?" written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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