On Giants' Shoulders

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Picking Up Pins

I read a quote from St. Therese last week on someone's blog about the infinite value of picking up a pin for the love of God. It got me thinking about small things and also encouraged me to re-read St. Therese. I realized that often the things I do are "hidden" and that I am not always recognized for doing them. I also realized that I was beginning to resent that. I didn't really like "picking up pins. " I particularly resented it when the "pins" got dumped again, or when someone accused me of never picking them up. So "pins" were becoming a problem. But Fr. Mattison helped, and reading St. Therese helped.

What I realized thanks to Fr. M. is that if I do something for the love of God, that it really doesn't matter whether the people I also do it for appreciate it, or even recognize it, because I didn't really do it for them. What I realized after reading St. Therese is that a. there is true value in doing the hidden thing, and b. that being criticized unjustly is actually good for me because it can help me become more humble.

I also realized where St. Therese probably got the idea of the hidden thing from. It's the scripture about not giving alms so that you might be seen for doing it. If you give your alms publicly you have your reward, if you give them secretly God will reward you instead of you receiving human acclaim. We're so used to giving and receiving human acclaim that the principle gets lost in the shuffle. I think that perhaps one of the things that drives some women in our society to leave their homes to do paid work is that very lack of affirmation for the things they are doing. However, I like being at home, I don't have any burning desire to get affirmation in someone's office or store and St. Therese says that that desire for affirmation is tied up with self love. My problem was I needed to figure out a way to do the hidden thing without resentment. I needed to find the value in the hidden thing.

I wondered that if I could begin to do as St. Therese recommends and do these things strictly for the love of God, I might begin to find the infinite value in that exercise. So I decided to try an experiment. Jen over at Et Tu is doing a radical experiment in prayer. I'm going to do a radical experiment in "picking up pins." Each day I'm doing a job which I hope no one will notice. I'm going out of my way to find little things that haven't been done for awhile, that no one really notices haven't been done, but that if they actually were done would make things just a bit nicer around here. However, I'm not going to count any big things as part of this project. If it's big enough to actually get noticed, then it won't count, it will still have to get done, because big jobs do have to get done, but it won't be part of the experiment. As a matter of fact if people notice the small thing, I'll find another small thing to do to make up for the fact that they noticed. I'm hoping that this exercise will help wean me of being resentful when people fail to notice the things I do. It's not that I won't appreciate affirmation, I'm just hoping I'll be less annoyed when I don't get it. I'm also hoping that perhaps lessons in doing the hidden thing will have value in some other ways, as I offer up those hidden things for particular prayer needs. So far, I've had 4 days of "picking up pins" and it does seem to be helping, even when it comes to bigger jobs.

So I'll recommend that my readers look for pins as well. It won't get you fame, or acclaim, but the Church has recommended Theresian spirituality with good reason. And Lent is a good time to begin to practice "the little way."


At 8:44 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Nice Post. I now have a google blogger, which will now be my main BLOG-site. Check it out. I'm stil putting it together.



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