How often do we become caught up in the externals of a situation, rather than viewing it from a spiritual outlook?
When we judge our neighbors, react irrationally towards our children, or hold resentment towards our spouse, we are allowing ourselves to become distracted by the externals.
But when we put effort into seeing someone as God sees them, we can perceive the wholeness of the human person; namely, one who is beautiful and full of goodness.
1. Don’t Over-React to Annoying Habits
I have often over-reacted at the habits of my children which I consider “annoying.” My daughter is extremely clingy in crowds, or around animals, and I find myself perturbed and frustrated by situations where I see everything as OK, and cannot understand her fears.
Yet for my three-year-old daughter, the situation is far from comfortable, and as her mother, I am called to overcome the difficulties of the trying behavior, and patiently address her needs over and over, no matter where we may be.
Here in these moments I am tempted to place my preference for certain behaviors over the truth of the matter. For of course, the truth is that we all are imperfect and have many annoying behaviors of our own.
When we look only at the externals of a difficult situation or trying personality, we understand with a limited vision, and we must ask God for His help to see instead with eyes of love. With the eyes of God.
2. From the External to the Internal
If we are trying to see as God sees, our focus moves from the external to the internal workings of a person, and how all of one’s unique behaviors make up his or her God-given temperament. We cannot let our opinions or preferences pass judgment on another because they are so different from us.
Of course, I may want to see the goodness in those around me, but I must work at seeing it; for how much easier it is to focus on the negative qualities of our friends and family, and doing so provides us with a feeling of false superiority that ultimately only robs us of joy.
For example, I have often found that I experience deeper happiness by extending thoughts of generosity and pleasantness to those I encounter on a regular basis.
To assume the best of them is to see them in truth – as a person of inestimable worth, who is trying (and sometimes failing) to live as God wills them to live.
3. Varying Calls to a Life of Holiness
The way in which each of us pursues a life of holiness is varied according to God’s unique call for us. We cannot expect that the holiness for a sister, friend or cousin, is exactly the path to which God is calling us. I must become aware of my unique identity and the individual graces which God is giving to only me.
At times I have struggled, as a young stay at home mother, with comparing my trials to those around me. Seeing my sisters or friends with larger homes than I, or a husband who gets home from work earlier can cause me to assume that her day is easier than mine, or that her children are happier than mine are.
Yet, in begrudging my sister or friend the blessings which God has given her only keeps me from seeing my own gifts, and thanking God for them.
When I rest confidently in the knowledge of God’s love for me, and in the conviction that He always wills my good no matter what my circumstances may be, I discover peace in the acceptance of God’s will.
To do this, we must pray for the grace to remain focused on our own blessings, and let go of preconceived plans of how we will achieve happiness in this life. Only God knows what is best for me and my own family, and when I place my trust in His will, I free myself from the bondage of fear for the future.
As a homeschooling mother, I may face the fears of measuring up to an inner standard I hold of “homeschooling success” or “motherhood success” and what that means for our family.
I may battle worries for my children’s safety or futures on a sometimes daily basis. But when I look towards God with faith, and work to view life in the bigger picture, I am better equipped to surrender all my doubts and trust solely in the Lord.
Am I willing to put my beliefs of faith into action?
Am I willing to put into action my trust in God, and hope for the future?
Your thoughts: what works for you to avoid being afraid of the future?