The sum of the experience is not represented by the symbol by which the experience is identified. In other words the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. How is this possible? Does this not say that mathematics is useless? Yes. In many cases it does. In other cases it works just fine.
If what you are seeking in a symbol is the bottom line of a balance sheet in dollars and cents, then the wisdom is to rely on the sum. If you are counting the number of sheep in widely separated flocks, then the sum of the parts is completely sufficient.
However, if you are seeking a sum of the benefits or detriments of the positive or negative result of the balance sheet, then more—much more—than the gross total must be taken into account.
If you seek to measure in any worldly way the sum benefits of days spent in church, the number of prayers offered up, or the measure of works performed in the name of God, then you may very well come up with an actual number, but you will be badly mistaken in the final calculation, because it is not possible to calculate such a figure while you are still sucking wind, and it is not you who makes the final tally.
The score-keeper is God. Any actions attempting to come to a figure that does not take the final score-keeper into account will result in a null value. The works or actions in the balance sheet must be prefaced by a faithful understanding that it is not you who initiates the action. If you are doing it right, then you will do it because you must. The score-keeper is the initiator—you are merely the agent. If they are initiated by you, then the total rings up as invalid in the eternal sense. You lose.
O Blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.
This is re-posted from my Facebook account. It was submitted by friend, Christine Hut.
It touches me deeply. I am truly humbled. I think in personal prayer I would have put it simpler, but the sentiment and even the language itself goes quite deep.
The following is an edited and expanded version of a reply I left in my article Nature’s Talking from a couple of days ago here in Cor Novus. You can link to the article here and find it on the Home Page as well.
The article spoke of the insanity of attempting the same remedy in different variations for addicitive and destructive behavior. I applied it to my history with alcoholism and stated that the insane behavior was attempting to get Alcoholics Anonymous to solve my disastrous relationship with alcohol over decades of abuse. I said that I stopped going to A.A. and instead found another method without saying what that method was.
I concluded by asking if anyone cared to know what my successful method was. I got a couple of takers who asked. By reply I spoke in the comments field where I found success. I thought it worthy of an article of its own.
Here it is.
by way of firm reply
I recovered from my disease by learning to stop trying to try to stop. That doesn’t mean I surrendered in the way that I finally gave myself over to my compulsions (addictions) and began to let them consume me without objection. It means that I stopped using my own resources to combat the practice. Instead I took to heart the lesson of the third step and turned my will and life over to God and let Him take care of it.
The trouble I had with A.A. is that in every instance I felt that once I “completed” step 3 I was urged to begin taking my own will back again. I was told that I could never be cured of this disease. I find that impossible to believe if God is the proper one to whom the ailment should be surrendered. The ailment is NOT the addiction (compulsion). The ailment is in trying to assert (or RE assert) my own will in trying to control it, even if there is a brief lull by temporarily handing over my will to what A.A. calls a HIGHER Power.
This time, in prayer, I tearfully prayed for God to take the addiction away and admitted that I had no power to do so by myself–not even a little. I gave up trying to give up trying. I felt the compulsion leave me immediately. I have had similar experiences and knew it, so I FOLLOWED up THAT prayer with another.
Now what do I do, God. I’ve failed at this before.” The answer I received by way of firm spiritual reply was, “You gave it to me. Don’t take it back–no matter what.
Temptations still came, stronger at first but gradually diminishing and less in frequency until now they have become non-existent. I prefer to think of the temptations as attempts by Satan to draw me back in. At first I would try to argue with the Tempter, but that always led to frustration and an increase in the temptation. Finally I learned the lesson (and applied it) of the answer to my second prayer. I let God have it.
I responded to Satan with a variation of the following,
This is not my problem anymore, Devil. I’m not going to argue with you about it. If you want to discuss it with someone, then you should go talk to God. I gave it to Him to handle for me.
Whenever I answered the temptation like this (and it was very difficult sometimes) the temptation would immediately go away. I have NO idea that Satan ever went to God with the issue. The Devil already knew who would win the argument between God and Satan.
There are several other tricks I picked up along the way. This is basically it.
24 years ago, I was 33 years old and struggling with a bitter alcohol addiction. I lived in a metropolitan region of Virginia and staying at a substance-abuse halfway house. One warm and sunny summer morning I put on my best shirt and pants and a pair of narrow-toe dress boots and caught a bus six miles downtown to go job hunting. Once downtown, I started to walk back along a busy commercial boulevard. I stopped at business after business — convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants — looking for work. There were no takers.
The heat rose quickly. Around the three mile mark, the boots began to pinch. Mile four and they were torturing me and my feet were crying. I was sweating and cursing. With a mile and a half left to go there were no more places to look for employment. My clothes were sweated through. I staggered on what felt like two raw and bloody stumps. I continually cursed God for my shoes, my feet, the heat and my general and rotten damn luck. On the last leg I passed a large municipal hospital at the foot of a long, tall and steep overpass — one and a half miles to go.
Stumbling, cursing, and groaning, I passed the hospital and climbed the overpass and started down the other side.
At the bottom of the other side, starting up, was a man in a wheelchair — one of the old fashioned types that you have to propel by arm muscle. He started to push his way up the hill I was descending. I met him before he made it more than 3 or 4 yards.
“Would you like a hand?” I asked.
“Sure. Thanks” I got behind the chair and started pushing.
“Going to the hospital?”
“What are you going for?”
“Dialysis. Three times a week.”
“Wow! You make this trip by yourself three times a week?”
“Most times. Sometimes I get a ride — every now and then.”
“Wow. Where are you coming from?”
“Scarborough Apartments. Other side of Jefferson.”
J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, the road we were on, intersected Jefferson Avenue one half mile from the hospital. Jefferson Avenue was a very busy and heavily congested thoroughfare.
We got to the top of the overpass. He said, “I’ve got it from here. Thanks.” We said our “goodbyes” and “good lucks” and he started down. I turned around and started back down my side. I realized for the first time that my feet no longer hurt. I only went a few feet before I turned around and looked back, He was out of sight now on the other side of the rise. I thought momentarily about going back up if for no other reason than to confirm the reality of the experience. Oh, it was real all right. There was no denying that.
I decided against it. This seemed much too large to be mere coincidence. I didn’t know if I wanted to know if he had disappeared once he was out of sight. This was MUCH too large to be coincidence. This was some form of divine intervention. This was a loving slap to the face. I started back. I didn’t know when my feet had ceased to hurt, but I suspected it was shortly before I took the handles of the wheelchair. In fact, I was now light on my feet. I walked with a bounce to my step.
I began to pray. I asked forgiveness for my earlier cursing, griping, and crying. Then I began to continually give praise and thanks for all my blessings. I was penniless, alcoholic, living in a halfway house, unemployed, and divorced. My children lived three hundred miles away and one of them was dying from terminal birth-defects. I was sweating like a horse and my feet had been killing me. None of that entered my mind at that moment — not for a second. At that moment all I could do was sing and praise God for all my great and many blessings. I remembered deeply a proverb of my mother,
I cried because I had no shoes, until I met the man who had no feet.
I developed by living it, 24 years ago, a new perspective that resounds strongly in my spirit still today.
Can you give thanks and praise even in the face of extreme adversity?
Give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised — not to mention even more blessed than before.