Fr. Roy Cimagala .
IT’S understandable that at the end of the day we get tired, dead tired even. That can only mean that we have worked a lot and have worked to exhaustion. But we should not be bored.
Boredom can only mean we are not happy with our work. We may not find meaning in it. We may even feel we have been prostituting ourselves, slaving for something that we do not like or finding that we have been cheated all the while.
The ideal situation should be that we get tired but very happy, contented and feeling fulfilled. This can only happen if we work with the proper motive which can only be love—love for God and for others. Love makes the tiredness due to work meaningful.
But that love has to be the genuine one, the one that really comes from God, not from the many fake ones that can give some perks for a while but later on can only become toxic.
The God-inspired love would know how to handle tiredness and other similar conditions like frustrations, disappointments, stress, forced idleness due to sickness or disability, etc. It would know how to derive something good from these conditions.
This kind of love is willing to make sacrifices, to bear the burden not only of one’s own but also that of the others. The energy and the rejuvenating power that it gives certainly come not from material, natural and worldly sources. It comes from a higher source that is spiritual and supernatural.
It prevents one from losing the love for work even as it helps in losing the fear for tiredness. It does not count cost. It simply gives and gives, and instead of feeling empty after so much self-giving, one feels more and more filled with enthusiasm and desire to work more, to give more.
It reflects what the Book of Proverbs says: “Those who give generously receive more, but those who are stingy with what is appropriate will grow needy. Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (11,24-25)
The love-inspired tiredness knows where to find true rest. It is in Christ who said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11,28) More than that, it knows that whatever heavy and tiring tasks one has to do are really not so burdensome because as Christ said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11,30)
We need to examine how we deal with our tiredness. Is it a tiredness out of the exertions of love or is it simply a meaningless tiredness? Does our tiredness lead us to seek God or does it want to find relief somewhere else?
A tiredness that does want us to go to God is one that would be most vulnerable to the weaknesses of the flesh that will try to reclaim its so-called “lost rights” and will seek illicit and sinful compensations. One would be feasting on the offerings of lust and other worldly ways of relief. Of course, the devil would have a heyday.
It is important that while we are working and getting tired, we are always with God, always finding motives for loving and giving more of ourselves, not being afraid of the sacrifices involved.
In this regard, what can help is always to keep in mind the passion and death of Christ which should be the ultimate standard of what true love and self-giving is.
We certainly need to promote a culture of work that highlights this way of dealing with the unavoidable tiredness and stress. In the families, churches, schools and offices, this culture has to be developed. And given the temper of the times, it has to be consciously and vigorously promoted.
Forever young and new. Though we cannot avoid aging and getting old, we have to understand that we are meant to be forever young and new. Aging and getting old are a matter of time. They are temporal or temporary. They are more a matter of the physical, material and external. They only happen in this life here on earth.
But since we are meant to be in eternity with God, we are actually meant to be young and new and never fading, just like God himself. To be forever young and new is more a matter of the spiritual, supernatural and the internal in us.
Though to be forever young and new cannot be achieved here on earth, we have to understand that we should try our best, together with God’s grace, to approximate that ideal here on earth. The secret is in loving—loving God himself and because of our love for God, then also loving everybody else.
It’s love that is a participation of God’s love for us that will keep us forever young and new. It will keep us fervent amid the vagaries of life, strong and focused and with good fighting spirit as we go through the ravages of life.
We need to keep this love burning always. And again the secret is always to look for Christ wherever we are, whatever the situation we will have. We have to learn how to find Christ in everyone and everything, how to relate everything to him. Everything is always relatable to Christ, including our mistakes and sins. It’s he who will show what to do with them.
Toward this end, we have to fight against laziness, both physical and mental. We always need to submit ourselves to a certain discipline to keep us fit physically and mentally so as to be able to engage God properly.
We have to fight against our tendency to take God for granted. We have to fight against the tendency to fall into complacency, spiritual dryness and coldness. Indeed, we really need to sharpen our spirit of mortification, for without it, we really cannot go far in our prayer and our spiritual duties.
It’s clear that to keep ourselves young and new in this life, we need to wage war, a spiritual warfare. And this can be in the arena of our work today that is now flooded with many new, fascinating, if also absorbing things. We have to be most careful not to fall into self-indulgence, obsessions and addictions.
The new technologies will surely give us some high feelings, but they will only be fleeting and will gradually tie us down into some kind of addiction. We need to be extra careful with them, always rectifying our intentions and clearly keeping a sense of limits in their use so as not to be separated from God. They can be a sweet poison.
That is why we need to keep ourselves in the presence of God, and maintain a spirit of prayer. Prayer, combined with recourse to the sacraments, spirit of sacrifice and ascetical struggle, is the best anti-aging tool we have at hand. Wrinkles may still come, though they for sure will be delayed, but the spirit will be forever young and new.
It is important also that we keep away from any sign of negativity in thoughts, desires, feelings and words. Try to avoid keeping grudges. These tire and age our spirit fast. If we cannot say anything good or positive, it’s better just to keep quiet. When some critical thoughts come, and they can come quite spontaneously, try to banish them as soon as possible.
Smiling also helps a lot. Even in physical terms, it makes us look younger, removing many years away from our face. Let’s always have a good disposition whatever the situation. All of these can only happen if we are truly identified with Christ.