Friday, March 13, 2009

12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.

From Janet in Baltimore:

Ironically, explaining this maxim is difficult for me. Although I’ve pondered its meaning since it was assigned to me, I have procrastinated writing about it, with the excuse that I lacked insights on what to say.

What is the wisdom in this maxim? Often, the most difficult things are the most important things to do and shouldn’t be put off. In this case, writing about this maxim is one of the most important things I can do today!

Delay can make a difficult task even harder and can make a problem worse by piling up the issues. Delay prolongs the dread of what I know I need to do. For example, the apology that I need to make becomes more awkward the longer I wait, and ignoring it magnifies the pain for me and for the person I’ve hurt.

I need to prioritize what seems difficult, before my energy and time are spent (whether it’s this writing or daily prayers or a 5-mile run). The result is a better outcome than waiting till I’m too tired, stressed, or rushed to finish things later in the day.

Facing challenges without hesitation demonstrates our faith in God to provide strength. We have the examples of Christ and the Holy Fathers’ lives to inspire us to deal with issues right away. As we tackle right away the painful or difficult chores with God’s help, we can experience the joy of witnessing His power to surmount life’s trials!


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head for me! I recently bought this little book titled "Eat That Frog" The idea is to tackle the hardest task first because it is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment. I suffer with procrastination daily-but when I rally and rise above what I think my limits are-I am never disappointed in the results and how it feels-I only wonder why I didn't "eat that frog" sooner!

Doanh (Fevronia) said...

In the book, "Christ the Eternal Tao," Lao Tsu says to do difficult things as though they were easy and do easy things as though they were difficult.

Ponder what you will with that. Maybe it's a way to level out all the tasks. All I know is I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that I can do nothing without Him. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Emily said...

Doanh, what a wonderful quote!

I'm glad to find someone else who thinks there is much to be learned from the Tao Te Ching. I love to study it as poetry, but also as spiritual wisdom; it predates Christ, of course, but in many ways anticipates His coming.

Doanh (Fevronia) said...

Yes, the OCF at UMBC are having a book club on "Christ the Eternal Tao." I've read it a few times but wouldn't mind reading it again and again. So, do you have a favorite line or poem from the book?

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.