Monday, April 25, 2016

What am I to do with my life?

We often hear people struggling trying to figure out how they can benefit mankind or society. Saint Theophan the Recluse reminds us that such questions are unnecessary questions. He says,
There is no reason to torture yourself with difficult problems. You need to put out of your mind any plans about “multi-beneficial, all-embracing, common-to-all mankind” activity...
Phrases such as “the good of mankind” and “the good of the people” are always on their tongues…they have in mind all mankind or at least all of its people lumped together. Probably you, after hearing so many profound ideas, were captivated by them, and when you turned your eyes to your real life, you saw with regret that you had vegetated in your family circle without benefit or purpose. Oh! Only now has someone opened your eyes! 
We must be careful about grand ideas or ideologies least we forget about our relationships with family and friends. What we are called to do as Christians is to first love God and second to love our neighbor with our whole heart. Our mission is to love, not save society or some general idea of mankind. We need to focus our attention on those who are right there in front of us. They are the ones we are to love, to help, to console, to understand. This is our purpose. So many are suffering in some way, let alone the many who lack even basic needs. If we live in an affluent neighborhood we are likely to ignore and forget about those who are in need just like the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. If fact, we often hear people disparaging those in real need as lazy or only looking for a hand out. When they do so they are speaking in generalities with a cold heart. When we face them and talk with them and listen to their story we find they are struggling with the basic elements of life.

What are we to do? We are to stop thinking of grand schemes and turn in love to those near us. Talk with them, listen to them, and show that you care about them. One by one we can help each other and in this way we can impact society or mankind. Don't wast time in general movements or causes. Open your eyes to what is directly in front of you.

Saint Theophan says,
Those who keep thoughts of the welfare of all mankind inattentively let slip by that which is in front of their eyes. Because they do not have the opportunity to perform a general work, and let slip by the opportunity to perform a particular work, they accomplish nothing towards the main purpose of life.
All troubles come from a mental outlook that is too broad. It is better to humbly cast your eyes down toward your feet, and to figure out which step to take where. This is the truest path.
Reference: The Spiritual Life, Chapters 16 & 17 

See points 8. Putting Others First and 9. Spiritual Fellowship in the Ten Point Program for Orthodox Life.


  1. Glory to God. Thank you for your blogs.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to "love locally" rather than get sucked into "loving globally."

  3. Jesus is the only way.

  4. Sentiments like these are the bread and butter of alcoholics anonymous. It's so easy to get caught up in grand ideas that last absolutely nowhere but frustration. Get bitter or get busy.


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