From Melanie in Baltimore:
I wanted to share with you all my list of five little things that I can do to strengthen my faith.
1. Wear my prayer rope to work daily.
2. Say a quick prayer before eating when out with friends.
3. Smile at everyone (at least once) on days when I am especially sad or unhappy.
4. Take a few minutes of quiet time out of the day to reflect on the good things that happened.
5. Once a week, find a way to be a good example of the Orthodox Church to someone.
They're little things that I can be doing during the week. It's so easy to be faithful in big ways. Saying a prayer when we are able to safely climb out of our car after an accident. Thanking God for a much needed raise during economic hardship. These things are large, almost game-changing events in our lives. But what about those small things? Is it too much to ask to be faithful in small ways as well as large ways? Can't these small things also change our lives?
Two weeks ago I had a student ask me about my prayer rope that I have been wearing every day for the past six months. It gave me an opportunity to share. I told him that it was a gift from the priest at our church and that he had brought it back from Greece. I also told him that the monk that made the prayer rope requested that the person wearing it would pray for his mother, Dorothy. It's the same name as my mother-in-law and her mom before her. I told him that I wore it so that when I'm typing, eating lunch, teaching at the board or rolling up my sleeves, I have a reminder of the type of person I'm supposed to be.
Let it be known that it is hard to be faithful in these little things. It is easy to ask for God's help when we are facing the big things that we know that we can't handle ourselves. Some days, I feel embarrassed to wear my prayer rope or worry about what others think. But, in being able to conquer these little things, I find the strength to conquer the larger things. I find the strength because, by being faithful in the little things, I remind myself that God is in control.
If you feel inclined, I would ask that you share five little things that you can do to strengthen your faith, in the hopes that others will feel encouraged and lifted up in prayer.
The Forty Maxims
- 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
- 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
- 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
- 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
- 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
- 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
- 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
- 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
- 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
- 10. Be faithful in little things.
- 11. Do your work, then forget it.
- 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
- 13. Face reality.
- 14. Be grateful.
- 15. Be cheerful.
- 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
- 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
- 18. Listen when people talk to you.
- 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
- 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
- 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
- 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
- 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
- 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
- 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
- 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
- 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
- 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
- 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
- 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
- 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
- 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
- 33. Be strict with yourself.
- 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
- 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
- 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
- 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
- 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
- 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
- 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.