You Need Do Nothing
I awoke this morning again thinking of St. Theresa’s “Bookmark:”
“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
After prayer, I still found myself in an unusual state of mind or feeling – just not in the mood to work on certain things. Though I have a freelance writing project to complete before next Wednesday, I just did not feel up to working. It is here that I remind myself that to do nothing is to indeed sometimes the best thing one can do. Though I could force myself to do it, I wouldn’t be pleased with the result, and I would only make myself perturbed. So, I let it go, knowing at the right time I will again work on it and complete it. Just not today.
Previously, I used to force myself to get things done against my better will. But I have learned it is always wise to trust your inner wisdom. Do not ever force yourself to do any activity (unless absolutely necessary). Rather, if it can be postponed, do so until one feels like doing it. So, instead of working at my desk, I did some work outside, a little exercise (and stopped because I was not in the mood for that either), and will take care of home matters rather than writing (beyond this blog entry) today.
I did feel a need to seek spiritual wisdom regarding patience. Patience is a virtue that becomes part of one’s character with practice. Patience, and acceptance, are areas for me to contemplate. To simply be…and to let all just be. To realize all is well. I do this well most times, but sometimes realize I let my mind clobber my inner peace with too much thinking.
To, as St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset,” is a great strength.
One’s inner peace is usually disturbed by one’s own mind. Sometimes on things imagined, and sometimes on real situations that are serious in life. Examples include: When we worry, we are thinking about nothing. When we allow ourselves to have expectations, and are disappointed when other people or situations do not behave or happen in the time frame as we may have hoped or planned. Or when the world, because of its belief that love is impossible, intrudes upon our lives or halts something that would have been a blessing for others. When we obsess about how we did something, what we said, or even something yet to come. There are so many examples in life that can disturb our peace of mind…perhaps the worst being (at least for me) when I care deeply about another person or a group of persons, and see them being victimized or at least not treated in the way I feel they should be, or if they are hurting. Simply, other’s well being, whom I care about, affects me deeply. Nevertheless, I must not worry, but maintain inner peace so I can be the best friend possible, and do the best I can in any situation which is important to me.
Inner peace is disturbed when we allow fear thoughts to enter. Frequently these fear thoughts take the form of “What if…?” or “What will happen if I …?” and the list goes on. “Did I say the right thing?” “Did I say enough?” “Did I do the right thing?” Or we imagine the very worst thing happening to someone we care about or a situation we care about. Our mind imagines the worst possible scenario or outcome, and we become upset as we replace faith with worry. It is fear which makes us question ourselves and our actions, suggesting that unless we worry somehow a result we deem unfavorable will occur. For me, this is a time I go to God in prayer. And each time I am reminded “You need do nothing.” Truth. Pure and simple.
Be it worry about getting something done for my work, for my home, or in relation to others and friends, if I have followed the light I’ve been given, done all I can do, then I must let go. I need do nothing. I must simply wait and watch, be who I who am, and allow things to develop in their own time, the right time, as they will. I cannot control all situations, variables, and other people…but I can to the best of my ability express my goodwill. It is up to others, beyond our control, how and if our intentions are interpreted in the love they are given. It is also beyond our control situations in life, so rather than worry, we must turn to one another and to God for comfort, solace, and support.
Think about St. Francis de Sales quote again: “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
That says it all. If anything in your life is causing you to be disturbed, you are making a mistake. If you feel a need to rush, you are making a mistake (something I’m prone to do but which I am now conquering). Heartfelt actions and communication need never be rushed. Neither, too, should actions requiring your rational thought be rushed. But if one makes such a mistake, you are allowing your mind (a powerful and imaginative tool) to suggest possible outcomes to your actions (or lack thereof). When you are thinking about the past or the future, you are thinking about something that does not exist. All you have is now. Those in your life you love, the activities which are important to you to do, this very moment…these are yours. Supposed imagined futures (or past regrets) are nothing – they do not exist – all that exist is this moment. In this moment, all you need do is surrender. View everything, and experience everything, just as it is. Do not waste time (or worse yet upset yourself so much that you cannot do the things you want or must do) by worrying. Worry will change nothing; it will only keep you from being in the moment and thereby effective at what you must do for the situation as it is now. Whatever this moment brings, and whatever the next, is for you to fully experience. I cannot control everything around me or those I care about. I can do my best to remain in the moment, in faith, free from worry, so I can express love.
I’ve shared this perspective with my friends for years, and still I must remind myself of it. Only now, I think I’m grasping it inside (instead of just in my mind) because it really completely relates to faith. To worry is to not trust God – to worry is to turn away from faith trusting oneself and our eyes and our limited perception rather than God. Worry is fear. Fear is the opposite of love, and thus the opposite of God and His will, protection, provision and blessings for us. When we worry we are not in faith, and that is why we feel overwhelmed and lost.
In my life, I’m learning to distinguish between “worry” and “concern.” Of course, as human beings, our thoughts and feelings will be activated in times of duress, uncertainty, stress, and danger. God gave us minds, and we should use them. “Concern” is good as it enables us to analyze a situation to determine what we can do to help another (or ourselves). On the other hand, you can recognize that “concern” has devolved into “worry” when we find ourselves obsessing and becoming ineffective in what needs to be done. For me, worry leads to anxiety, despair and discouragement, and sometimes anger – all of which I do not want to be. I personally find this difficult to maintain, as I think many of us do. My emotions about matters and individuals who are important to me can take over, and I know I’m allowing my mind – rather than my heart and rather than my spirit – to control me. During these times, I turn to prayer now…and I am comforted. Sometimes it takes another to tell me that I am making this mistake, and at such times, my ego often replies “No, I’m not.” But after thinking about it, I realize, yes, I was making a mistake.
I share these thoughts, my stream of consciousness, today in my blog. Perhaps as I struggle (and learn & grow), my experiences and insight will be helpful to others. I know when I am deeply concerned about something or someone, or how or what I’ve done in relation to a situation or individual I care about, I must remember to trust God (not my limited perception). I more easily can share and teach this than do it…but in writing about it, I will likely remember this truth much more so and deeply.
As it turns out today, the feeling I awoke with disappeared once I took away any pressure on myself to work on another matter which I did not feel was right to do at this time. Rather, I did a few other things as I said, and then had two good conversations with friends (one of whom had a message about their life and a decision they had made based on this very principle (letting it be, do nothing, and trusting all in good time will bring blessings). And another friend who needed this very message as they are embarking on making a major life decision – they shared with me what they were worried about after their plan and hope for a dream will not apparently come to fruition – and I was able to immediately share with them St. Francis de Sales’ quote to which they replied “Beautiful. Perfect.” The conversation which ensued was a blessing for us both, as it helped my friend, and helped me in affirming the very truth I was in the middle of writing about today.
As we approach each day, engage with others, and make tentative plans, we must do what we can. Then let it be. Do nothing. One must never force oneself to do something, just because it was planned. One must listen to how they feel and not go against it. There may be another purpose in those moments, in that day, than you in your limited understanding had planned. Have faith in God. For as the Bible says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 – KJV)
That one Scripture, even as it just came to mind, eliminates all fear thoughts.
Follow the light you you see, do not try to understand everything, just trust. Change your plans if need be, never force yourself to do something or go somewhere if something important inside says no. Just do nothing. Inner peace will return.
I do not know the “why” or “reason” I felt like not doing what I had tentatively planned today. But what I do know is this: I end this blog entry, happy and content. I’m glad I listened to my heart, spoke with friends I care about, received a meaningful card from my church, watched the hail and rain, was given a beautiful message of love from my father, and did nothing else.