“Here was a man words cannot describe. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live.” Sulpitius Severus, writing of his friend, St. Martin of Tours (ca. 316-397).
What is it to be without a preference? I hardly remember. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been without a gold-plated set of preferences. As an infant, I wanted to be fed now. Today, the coffee I want now has to be strong; apples have to be Gala; chocolate, the darker the better (milk chocolate, are you kidding? and “white chocolate”? don’t get me started); bananas ripe, but not too ripe—you get the picture.
But for all the comfort we think our preferences will bring us, they are often needless points of strife. They’re points where we can choose peace over conflict, generosity over selfishness.
We’re talking about the times when giving up a little can mean a lot—like watching a movie the family wants instead of the one you had your heart set on; having beef for dinner for your spouse’s sake when you really feel like fish. It’s the little things that we harmlessly give up for love of others that pump up our virtue muscles. Being “other directed” is the only way to true joy—one of the paradoxes of the spiritual life.
Pope Francis put it this way: “The secret to a good life is found in loving and giving oneself for love’s sake. From here comes the strength to sacrifice oneself joyfully.”
Being more aware of our preferences and insisting on them less is something we can do at home, at work, or in line at the grocery store. Letting go of some of our preferences helps us see the big picture better and leads to a wonderful freedom. And peace.
Scroll down and share a time when giving up a preference led to more peace.
COMMENT ARRIVED VIA EMAIL:
Your thoughts are so beautiful and meaningful. It is teaching me to be a better person!
A blessed Feast of Christ the King to you!
Rose, I agree the little things can make a big difference to someone else, to our relationships and to create harmony in many situations.
Last sunday I heard in the sermon about perception, here is a quote I wrote down for myself.
“Changing perception is everything; keep the attitude of gratitude”
“Look at things how they could be. Not just how it is.”
thanks for your blog, I find inspirations and boosts on realizations I had but got pushed in the back of my mind. <3
Like you, I’ve noticed that spiritual growth is a cycle of “forgetting and remembering again.” Let’s keep reminding each other!
Yes, when we put our preferences behind others, we are actually living up to what St. Paul tells (and Christ our King!) us to die to ourselves. Another words, we (and our wants) need to decrease so Christ can increase in us so when our friends and family see us, they are really seeing Christ! This is truly living and being a witness to our faith.
These actions can be so simple as letting the car next to you get in front or waving to a pedestrian to cross the street or simply yielding to another person or drivers needs!
These may appear too simplistic, but when you add them up during the course of a lifetime, wow does a wonderful holy picture begin to appear!
Holines doesn’t start when we die, as then it can be too late! Heaven starts now!
Thanks for pointing out the habitual nature of holiness — a habit of doing good is what virtue is!