A few weeks ago at Sunday Morning Mass, the priest read the poem that Mother Theresa had adapted and hung on her bedroom wall.
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
(Adapted from”The Paradoxical Commandments” , Kent M. Keith, 1968)
This poem reminds me of what it is I value, and the importance of living up to those values, as best I can. It goes back to the wise advice I began this journey with:
“It is not what you want to be when you grow up, but who”.
To me, the poem speaks of doing what you do only for the sake of doing it, not for a greater reward, and I love the sentiment. To be generous in order to look kind takes away from the act of generosity. To forgive so that you can have one over on somebody further down the road does not take the grievance from your heart, and it will be you that suffers. An act of generosity is enough in itself. It strengthens us. It does not need to be known by anyone else. Forgiveness allows us to move through the hurt done, to move past it, so that over time, we can recall the incident or the person, without reliving the hurt and bitterness. Sometimes, you will not be asked for forgiveness. They may not even know they require it. Do it anyway. For you.
Usually this is quite easy for me. Right now I am in holiday mode. I am surrounded by the best Mother Nature has to offer. I have a non-stress job that keeps me from needing anything, or wanting much. However, this morning I opened my internet bill to see €173.36. I was gobsmacked. Convinced as I was that this was a mistake, I was physically shaking. I rang my provider. On hold. Minutes pass slowly. An operator answers and I explain the problem. He asks how much do I want to pay? I explain again. “Do you dispute the charges?”. “YES!” “I will need to transfer you”. On hold. More minutes, and I think of my lazy morning washing down the drain. Another operator, another time explaining my problem. He tells me the shop was wrong, that is not how they bill. How much would I like to pay? I tell him I want to cancel. I am again transferred, and again put on hold, and again wait and wait and wait. The next operator offers me a compromise: a reduced bill as I was not properly informed of the charging procedures. I hear how much they offer- €70. I hear how much cancellation is- €180. She listens to my fears. How did I run up so much data when I only checked it last week? We agree on a month’s trial. I hang up, still shaking at the expense: my internet is far from the $35 I expected and I think longingly on my internet line in Ireland. I may have grumbled, but they were never this bad. I feel slightly better having been listened to and with alternatives in place. I do not mind that this came after I wanted to cancel.
I think on the poem. Forgive them anyway? I’ve got to. They set the terms. If I don’t agree, I can leave. For $180. The sum also was not mentioned when I purchased. Forgive them anyway.
And I will check every day my internet usage.