A little story to remind us that the more we forget self, the happier we become….
by Leane VanderPutten
It was a lovely afternoon with the branches of the trees swaying in the breeze. Suzi was looking out the window as she was wiping the last of the dishes.
Tonight was the Ice Cream Social. All the young people in their parish, the neighboring parish and maybe even some out-of-towners would be there. There would be ice cream, games, a live band. It should be fun. The weather was mild and lovely.
But Sue’s brow was furrowed. She wasn’t thinking of the ice cream, the games or the weather. She was annoyed with herself…Why did she have to be so self-conscious around people? Why couldn’t she be more relaxed and comfortable? She knew others could tell she was self-conscious, and that made it worse.
While the outgoing, smiling girls made the boys and their comrades feel comfortable, Sue’s gestures were stiff…awkward…which made others feel awkward, too. So she was subtly avoided.
And tonight would be the same. Yes, Sue wanted to go, but she knew what would happen…again. She would struggle the whole evening pretending she wasn’t self-conscious. You can only fool yourself and others for so long.
She knew Charles would be there, too. She respected and liked Charles. He had an easy-going way about him. He was head of the Altar Servers, was religious, yet not with an air of fake piety.
Charles was genuine and liked by many. Tonight, once again, she would look on, wistful as the crowd gathered around him, chatting, laughing and having a good time.
It was hard on her.
And that’s why her brows were furrowed.
Her mom noticed. “Something wrong, dear?“
Sue winced. She didn’t really want to talk about it. It wasn’t something that could be solved by talking. She had learned that in the past.
Her mom sensed the reticence to talk and, not wanting to pry, said a little prayer for her daughter as she went to fold the rest of the clothes. She knew her daughter struggled with these things…
Sue finished the dishes and went to get dressed for the Social.
As she was passing the coffee table, she noticed a book perched on the corner. It was called “Quotes of Wisdom”. She went over and fingered the pages.
“Mom must have just got this book,” she thought.
She didn’t have much time but she opened it up and her eyes fell upon a quote by C.S. Lewis.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” She heard this quote before but this time was different. It struck a chord with her.
It’s true, she thought. She went to these parties, thinking of herself…how awkward she was, how shy she felt, how she wished she was like so-and-so or how she yearned Charles would pay attention to her.
Something clicked in Sue this time. “I’m going to do this party different,” she thought. “I’m going there and I’m going to think of others. I’m going to offer a hand to the hostess if she needs help. I’m going to notice if anyone is in need, or feeling awkward like I do, and be extra friendly to them. If I end up in a conversation I’m going to ask questions about them and let them talk.”
Sue’s heart was feeling lighter. As she was getting ready for the party, though, she began to slip back into her worry-mode. “What about this…. “What if I….”, etc.
Whoa! She stopped her thoughts. She mentally gathered those worries and fears in her arms, imagined herself looking into the tender and loving eyes of her Blessed Mother and laid those burdens at her feet.
“Please take care of them, my Mother!“
She threw on her wrap, said goodbye to her parents and walked the short way to the Social.
All through the evening she could feel herself wanting to hide or found herself slipping into self-condemning, intimidating thoughts. She would stop herself each time and leave them at Our Lady’s feet. It helped. It wasn’t easy or perfect, but she knew things were different this time.
And as the evening was coming to a close she actually had a small number of smiling friends form a bit of a circle around her.
Sue looked at her watch. It was late, she knew she had to get home. She finished helping the hostess cleanup.
She went to the closet to get her light wrap she had brought. All of a sudden, a hand reached up and took the wrap from her.
“Let me help you.“
She turned. It was Charles.
“Thank you.“. She said, her eyes sparkling.
As she dashed off into the night, the breeze playing through her hair, she looked up into the starry night and whispered another heartfelt “Thank you!”
Thought for the day…..
Father Irala from Achieving Peace of Heart:
No one who lives for himself alone lives as fully or produces as much as he who lives for others and does good for others.
When you are dominated by your unconscious mental activities, you lead a negative life which is colored by a sickly egoism.
You are always thinking of your own troubles and finding ways to lessen them. You can find no time to busy yourself with others or do any positive and progressive work. You see the enemy everywhere and are wholly taken up with fleeing from him.
Such a person lives, as Fosdick puts it, as if in a room lined with mirrors. Wherever he looks he sees himself.
But when he busies himself with others, several of these mirrors are changed into windows through which he can see other faces, other lives and other more pleasant landscapes.
“I have tried to show you , that you cannot become good and strong men and women, that is, men and women of character, unless you have Will-power, and further that you will be of little or no use to your country if you are weak-willed. It has been well said that ‘the only way to be a patriotic American is to do your best to become a perfect man.’ and a perfect man you will not be unless your Will is strong.”
This Maglet (magazine/booklet) is for you…dear young (and not-so-young), Catholic, Feminine Soul.
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