(if you missed last week’s picture on Sibling Rivalry, it, too, is from Google Free images, and well worth the look, I laughed out loud and for a good long time.)
One of the directives Ignatius puts forth for those engaging in spiritual direction is to give your director (and everyone else in your life) the benefit of the doubt. In practice, meaning, if for a moment you wonder if the motivation of some matter is good or bad, assume the good. If it is a matter of significant consequence we clarify, but we assume the good. That doesn’t mean we are blind to the work of the evil one and his influence, but when there is an opportunity to assume that which is good, go there.
Oh how much more pleasant life can be when we assume the good and move forward. In his classic work Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis presents a striking perspective which helps us understand how the devil works at dragging us down. The evil one begins with the slightest prod to question motives of those closest to us, prodding us to think ill of others, rather than good. One of my favorite excerpts from his book involves a scene with an old married couple where the devil introduces the thought of a negative motivation regarding a kindness one spouse did for another. The thought went something like, “She didn’t really do that because she loves you, she wants me to do that nasty job she has been nagging me about for months, well I’m not taking that bait, it isn’t going to work……” and that which was done from a pure motive of love is rejected (at least on a natural level).
Rather, may we put on the mind of Christ, one bathed in goodness and where positive words come readily. I don’t know about you, but I need this ferverino for myself, as we head into the last third of Lent. It is easy to be a little grumpier, shorter on good words and oh could I use a cookie. May we re-frame our thought toward that which is good and beautiful and true.
I am reminded of a young married couple who years ago, even back in the 1990’s (ancient history in the minds of the children with whom I spend my days) had a significant cross in their marriage regarding one of their children. I recall the wife saying about her husband, “He was uncharacteristically silent and distant, which made me realize how it was affecting him, too.” She could have been hurt at the silence and thrown a whole lot of blame at him, rather she saw with a whole different set of eyes, giving him the benefit of good judgment. She was able to look out in the midst of her pain to see his. What an example they were, and are, to me of goodness all these years later.
May we feast on the disposition our Lord would have us have, fast from the negative…..that is truly the kind of Lent that leads to Him who suffered and died for me. Now, Lord, help me to do so.
Begging for His grace,