Saturday, March 21, 2009

20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.

From Kathy in Baltimore:

This is quite ironic that I somehow got this one. Emily says she had nothing to do with it! So, here it goes.

Maybe, I received it because I thought I was getting better with all my yakking about nothing and God doesn't want me to get to settled in that comfort zone. After all, it may seem a ways to me, but He knows how little I've actually come - and how far I've yet to go! There is always room for improvement. That is what I'm constantly telling my kids - once you've mastered something, move on. Don't stop; keep going. Endure to the end! I also try to model this for them, but come short often!

In Father Gregory's homily Sunday, he said something along the lines of this: As we get older and have hardships and experience, we come to the recognition / understanding that we need God's love and wisdom. I would agree; I don't know how I would manage life without God, and the older I get, the more I see His love towards me and all of us.

Elder Porphyrios, author of Wounded by Love, says that prayer is what you should do first for your children - not talk, manipulate or force - you should pray for people. That's truly loving them. But kids need to live it, feel it and experience it for themselves - otherwise it's not deeply rooted. The same goes for adults who are questioning God or struggling. I went to have coffee with some moms from my boys' school, and two of them said they were upset with God because of their parents' deaths. They know I am Orthodox, but I said nothing. (I know, it's hard to believe that I chose silence - yikes!) I don't think they were looking for answers; they just wanted to throw that out there. Or maybe they were, but one of them had to go home, so I didn't want to start something that heavy and not have time to discuss it. Perhaps, I should have said "God knows you and your pain and will help you through it if you turn it over to Him. And this is not the end of the story; our life here is temporary!" But I think sometimes saying nothing at first builds trust - or at least good listening skills, which are a rare commodity these days. (I'm up there with the best of them.)

Sooooo, the bottom line is to think and talk no more than necessary. To accomplish that, I have found that starting out with prayer transforms hearts, and then there is no need for words at all.

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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.