It seemed a grim way to go about doing God’s work—that is, believing in the One God Sent—but I left it at that. I didn’t want to get in a fight. I’ve been thinking about that sad conclusion ever since, though.
It was my first thought this morning, as I dithered around the house, reluctant to go down to my mother-in-law’s house to wash and dress and feed and spend time with her. (Mamaw’s caretaker’s sister-in-law died yesterday, so we’re without our morning help for the next few days.)
Perhaps Sharon are right, I thought. Perhaps it is God’s purpose for me, this doing the right thing. This reluctance.
When I think about Mamaw, though, I know it’s not. She is someone who has always done the right thing, as far as I can tell. Sure, she has her faults. Back when she used to leave her house, she never failed to point out to me that any person she met or saw anywhere was “large,” as she put it. She herself has always been tiny. And there were other things.
But, in the main, she has been always selfless and kindhearted all the years I have known her. Motivated, it has always seemed to me, by a keen desire to be helpful. And always cheery about it. Nonetheless, her prayer at meals—the prayer she will pray at breakfast when I go down there in a minute or two—is for forgiveness:
Dear Lord, please forgive my sins and help me to do the right thing.And even now, her brain frayed by Alzheimer’s, she seems, above all, happy.
God’s purpose for us, if he has one—Do I have a purpose for my daughters?—is to be like Mamaw, I think. Helpful. Sweethearted. Aware of our own failings. Doing the right thing, but happy.
That’s God’s desire for us, anyway, in everything we do. Certainly it’s my desire for my own children: that they do the right things and that they be happy.
And to resist believing this, I’m thinking this Advent morning—to supplant God's desire for us with some heavy imagined duty or undesirable purpose—is to resist the coming of the One God Sent to teach us otherwise.
My yoke is easy, my burden light, he tells us. If we strive for anything, I think, it should be for the fulfillment of that promise.