Ordinary Time, 22nd Sunday (B) This one idea leads to a great deal of anger, hurt, anxiety, and depression. To make yourself miserable, all you have to do is think, "If I get my way, I'll be happy." At first glance you might tell me that I've got it backwards. But I will prove my point three different ways:
- The universe don't care about your puny little will. It's happy to rain on your parade, let things break at the worst possible time, and generally screw up your plans in every conceivable way.
- Other people. Every other person in the universe becomes a potential source of misery. We can't all be happy, and so we fight constantly over who wins and who loses.
- The science of happiness demonstrates that humans are actually laughably bad at guessing what will lead to happiness. We've all had experiences where getting my way turned out to be miserable. And we've all had experiences where getting the last thing I wanted turned out to be a huge blessing.
Too often, people of faith use their religion as a crutch to prop up this false idea. They think, "If I'm a good person, if I do the right things and pray hard enough, then God will make sure I get the good weather that I want, the health, the success, etc." God becomes my servant.
The Gospel gives us a different solution. Instead of trying to bend God, others, and the universe to my puny will, I can fold my will into God's will. I can let my plans be part of the much bigger, and much better, plans that God has for all of us. Just reading that sentence, you can already feel the anxiety and frustration leaving you.
The Church has a word for this idea. We call it, "Stewardship." It happens when we start to realize that God has been busy serving me and taking care of me long before I woke up, long before I was conceived into existence. When I serve, I am just giving back. And what's more, I am surrendering to a bigger and better plan than I could have thought up by myself. Trying to get my way actually gets in the way. Set your heart on being a Steward and watch as your life becomes happier.
(29 Aug 2021)
Going Deeper: How does trying to get my way, and throwing tantrums when I don't, manifest itself in my life? What would a life of Stewardship look like for me?