There are three pillars that allow the love of Christ to flourish in a family and in relationships. Our love is incomplete but Christ’s love completes us—and those around us. The pillars are peace, which is a product of the Holy Spirit; humility, which allows us to recognize our shortcomings; and the courage to desire to follow God in a world that pulls us away from Him. Each pillar uniquely draws us to our Creator and then opens our heart for His love to reign within us and in the hearts of our family members. So let us embrace them and bring them home with us every day.
Do not wish for everything to be done according to your determination, but wish that it is how it should be, and in this way, you will attain peace with everyone. And believe that everything that happens to us, even the most insignificant, occurs through God’s Providence. Then you will be able to endure everything that comes upon you without any agitation.—Abba Dorotheos of Gaza
This is the key to being a peaceful person. The more I insert my ego, my will and my wishes into situations the more I and others become agitated. It’s important to keep in mind that there are few “life or death” situations where we are required to take swift action. As they say in sports, “let the game come to you,” which also applies to life.
But why don’t I allow life to happen, or try to be more aware of my sin, my behavior, and look for God’s will in every situation with patience, waiting for Him to use me for His glory?
Saint Paul’s reflection on the death of the “old man”—a reference to dying to sin— and the putting on of the new man when he says, “Not I, but Christ in me” has great meaning in terms of acquiescing our will to God’s will. Living an unselfish life, being a light in the world is worthy goals, but they are only possible only by dismissing our will as Abba Dorotheos beautifully asserts.
In order for God to help us, we must help God with our humble thought. We should say, ‘Oh my God, I am such a useless person, please forgive me and help me.” Then God helps, because the soul—entrusted into the hands of God with a good and humble disposition—is entitled to divine help. We must believe that Christ and our Panagia always protect us and help us, as long as we are of a humble mentality.—Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain
People assume that if they think negatively about themselves that it is somehow bad. We are told by society to affirm ourselves, to value ourselves; this is true only if we have the right perspective. Our value comes from Christ alone. He created us. He gives us our life. He gives us our ability. He gives us our gifts. He gives us our joy. He gives us our creativity. “With every breath praise the Lord”—as is written in the Matins service. If our entire existence is dependent on Him, of course, we must be open to His love and help. When we are filled with vain thoughts and anxiety and false affirmations regarding our own abilities, we forget about God and the focus is on us. If, as Elder Paisios recommends, we see our own fragility and cry out unto the Lord: “I am not worthy, I am useless. Please forgive me and help me,” we are then ripe for the Lord to work in us and help us to do great things, in Christ. This is not self-deprecation, but rather an acknowledgement of God’s omnipotence, which leads to humility.
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.—Karle Wilson Baker
We all have fear and anxiety. Sometimes these feelings paralyze, limiting us from functioning. This simple quote reminds us that it is God who works through us. It is not us working on our own. It is the power of God disguised as us. Our quirks, biases, idiosyncrasies, emotions, physical and mental attributes, etc. are used by God for His purpose through prayer. Action under pressure or fear is heroic if we pray and ask that our actions are, in fact, in keeping with God’s will. Then the fear disappears and we become our perfect selves, in Christ. Remember this simple quote during the next time you experience fear or anxiety. Prayer opens the door for the power of our Creator to work through us.