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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Fact of Life

How do you feel when your efforts help others?  How do you feel when your efforts don't seem to help? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1454).

I enjoy helping others because that is my Christian mission and, perhaps equally important, it buttresses my self-concept and sense of self-worth and well-being.  The opposite of helpfulness I suppose would to be totally useless to anyone, in any way, at anytime, anywhere, for any  purpose.  I cannot imagine what a feeling of total uselessness would feel like, but I can speculate it would be a depressing sense of worthlessness.  In such a state of absolute dejection, even one's intercessory prayers would feel pointless.  That is, you would feel useless to no one, including God.  It would, in short, pose a crisis of faith.

Now there have been many times when my assistance has seemed to be of little or no effect--sometimes boomeranging and even appearing harmful.  Of course it doesn't help to be a bull in a china shop--no matter how good intentioned happens to be the havoc-wrecking bull.  We are called not only to be good intentioned but helpfully adroit.  I have long since taken on the viewpoint discussed in Shirzad Chamine's Positive Intelligence.  He suggest that we flash forward to our last day on earth and ask what would we do in the current situation from that vantage point asking "how do I wish I had conducted myself, regardless of outcome" (page 180).  That is, I must right off the bat realize that I don't have complete control of all factors bearing upon the issue at hand.  I must do my best at evaluation of uncertainties with the help of others and solemnly requesting God's guidance.  Then I make my choice and live with it, period.  I always will have the consolation of knowing that even if I fail, I did my best and followed my best lights--really, that is all that can be asked .  I of course would rather have certainty of outcome not just certainty of conviction.  But certainty of outcome in human affairs tends to be limited to mundane physical phenomena devoid of social complexities.

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