|Secret Lives of Goodness
By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.
—Saint Therese of Lisieux
Today’s headlines can make you question whether there is an absence of goodness in our world. Society is in a state of unrest trying to cope with war, hunger, and violence—in as many forms, it seems, as there are people. The negativity comes in waves that often feel overwhelmingly oppressive. It seems that the devastating news in our world is more like fodder for commentary than a call for change. It can be very discouraging—even in the face of Hope. So many are suffering needlessly, and although we all seem to know better, those who put their Faith into action are too few.
Clearly, the work of Jesus is not complete. There are millions who have taken up His mission and quietly go about making change in the world person by person. Few, if any of these individuals make headlines. It is the same old story: bad news makes good headlines and sells. It requires a discerning eye to see that goodness does prevail and many have embraced it as a way of life.
Many might be intimately familiar with the phrase “House devil, street angel.” It is used to describe a person whose best face is in the public sector where their good deeds and kindness toward others is diametrically opposed to the way they treat the people they live with behind closed doors. This article is not about them; it is about those who have only one thing in common with them—a secret. They don’t share a secret; they have a secret that unites them. There are many among us who live secret lives of goodness.
Many working and living with us go about their secret lives in such quiet ways that we never know what they do, how they do it, and how deeply it affects the world we live in. They decrease our stress levels, improve the quality of our lives, and go about transforming persons, places, and things that helps keep our world balanced. Their goodness delivered ounces at a time overwhelms tons of negative energy and dissipates the bitter taste left behind from others who do not care how they affect the people, places, and things they encounter.
It seems that the general make-up of such persons follows the very counsel of Jesus when asked about how to properly pray: “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” [Matthew 6:6] These individuals do not keep secrets about their good deeds as much as they do not promote themselves. They prefer to go about doing their good deeds silently.
The order of our world, however disordered it appears to us now, is all due to God’s holy creation and the goodness He placed as core in each one of us. The good continues because of the millions of people who continue the good, step-by-step, moment-by-moment.
Giving up, being overwhelmed, being sick and tired, feeling stressed and pressured is all part of the disorder. Christ’s way was never promised to be an easy one. No matter how tough or seemingly overwhelming it gets, we can never stop making good choices, assisting the vulnerable at every corner in small ways, and showing our good selves to every person we meet. These small acts of charity add up in ways we can barely imagine.
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