“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
There are times that Christians give up because they perceive that they make little to no change in the world around them. Since they cannot see concrete, visible change, they deduce — and I might add wrongly — that they have not made a difference. Believing that, they quit trying.
Marcus Aurelius knew thousands of years ago that we do not have power over outside events. The power that we have is within, as he puts it, the power over our minds. We have the ability to stand firm, to be strong in our beliefs, even if we do not see change taking place around us. Believe me, you may not see change, but it might be taking place nonetheless.
I have had the privilege of serving as a priest in some places where I didn’t feel as if I were making an impact of any kind. If felt as if all I could do was tread water so as not to drown. Some of those assignments included being a chaplain in an orphanage, a chaplain in a maximum security prison, a pastor in an inner city parish, and an instructor in a high school. In all of those assignments, I did my best to make a difference but felt that all I was doing was clocking hours in and out each day.
I held firm to the faith and did my best to instruct on the teachings of the Church while, at the same time, I tried to show that I cared about the people I was serving at the time. Prisoners, as you can imagine, are not prone to sharing much. They wall off their thoughts and feelings. Orphans, too, keep to themselves and dare not trust the kindness of others as they have been hurt many times in their past.
Often, it was not until years later — YEARS later — that I realized what had happened. There have been people who contacted me after many years and told me that what I said or did had a great impact on their lives. Even though they didn’t share it with me at the time, the impact was great enough as to steer them in a different direction so that they could find peace and fulfillment. Some of them found that peace and fulfillment in the Church that I represented because they saw an inner peace in me at the time that I was with them and they felt drawn to that peace.
We don’t have power over outside events but we do have power over ourselves. If we remain firm in the faith and live our faith as completely and transparently as possible, we might effect great change in another. What a bonus that would be, to know that we helped another person come closer to God.
FAITH ACTION: In a world that rejects the Lord, pray for strength of character that you may stand firm in the faith.