Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ‒Philippians 4:8
“. . . The Most Important Thing in the World”
Ten years after Mom passed away, my father became ill. By this time he was living in a smaller house that my brother Ernie had bought for him several years earlier, after Dad sold the large family home. Ernie owned a successful business and was in a financial position to be able to help Dad. He also knew that by getting another house for him, our younger siblings would have somewhere to live. I was grateful to my brother and his example helped pave the way for me to give to others who were in need.
My spiritiual eyes were opening and I tried to stay focused on generosity, no longer blinded to the loving kindness around me the way I’d been when I’d fixated only on what I didn’t have. This awareness comes to those who ask to see things as God does, and kind acts are the spiritual maps that show us the road we should follow as we continue on our life’s journey.
I was still working part time and taking care of my husband’s home office when my father became ill, and with my brothers and sisters, I helped take care of him. But getting there seemed a challenge because my father lived nearly twenty miles away. The expressway was the quickest and easiest way to get there, but I didn’t like to drive long distances and became anxious driving on the expressway, having once had a car accident. I was embarrassed to admit this and especially didn’t want my father to know about my trepidation.
But by this time, I knew that any fearful thought was not from God, but rather from my own smaller self. And I looked at this fear of driving on a highway as another gift from God, and the opportunity to overcome this annoyance that was holding me back from living a more fulfilling life, especially if it could keep me from being there for my father when he needed me. I’d learned that God is love and not fear, and believed I would overcome this challenge, too. I’d been reading and praying, and wanted very much to live these truths rather than just knowing about them. I wanted to show my faith through my actions, and understood that anything based on fear would have to be responded to with love. Most of all, I wanted to be able to be there to help take care of my father who needed me, and the only way to do this was to act, regardless of how nervous I felt. My anxiety only kicked in when I drove long distances on the expressway, but I decided I would not let anything keep me from being with my father.
Norman Vincent Peale said, “A human being is the most important thing in the world.” To me, this means keeping my heart open to others who are in need, which prevents me from focusing on my own problems. By concentrating on someone else’s needs, I don’t feed my own issues, which then can’t take root or thrive. This shifting of attention away from ourselves also gives us room to heal.
Because my faith was alive, I was able to drive to my father’s, although sometimes with sweating hands and shaky knees. On the expressway, I’d pray and give thanks to God for getting me there safely, and I believed in God more than in my own fears, trusting that He led the way. There was such joy in my heart when I arrived, glowing with appreciation and love, and I always had enough energy to take care of whatever my father needed. Eventually, after several uneventful drives, my anxiety disappeared, conquered by my faith that God kept me safe and continued to clear my way. My discomfort helped me to grow, by facing my fears and relying on God’s help.
I believe that we already have all the resources we need inside us, but that we actually hold ourselves back with the way we think. But when we joyfully give or send love to others, we become aware of God’s power supporting us, and that power is in all of us if we’re willing to ask for and use it. We are also the most powerful when we hear a call for help and respond to it without a thought to our own needs, even if our rational mind argues against it and we find ourselves slipping into disbelief. When we overcome our fear through grace, our faith and the grace that nurtures it grows stronger and heals us even as we help someone else.
Catherine Nagle ~ Imprinted Wisdom
Causes Catherine Nagle Supports
Westwind Foster Family Agency, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion International, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Invisible Children, Save the Children