In this Random Nun Clip, a listener helps others not because she really wants to but she feels like it's her Christian duty. Does God care about motives? Hear the full Ask Sister podcast AS182 on our website at aNunsLife.org.
SISTER MAXINE: We’re here in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on a Motherhouse Road Trip with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and we are delighted to be joined by Sister Katie Mitchell.
SISTER KATIE MITCHELL: Great to be here with you.
SISTER MAXINE: And Sister Ilene McKenzie.
SISTER ILENE MCKENZIE: Thank you, it’s lovely to be here.
SISTER JULIE: Well, sisters, we have another question, and this one comes in from Maggie from Florida, and Maggie writes, “I just want to ask: does God hate a grudging giver? Recently, somebody I knew from high school sent me a message asking me for financial help. I guess she assumed I have a lot of money because of the kind of job I have. I feel pity for her even though I think it’s out of line to just ask me. Not even a phone call, especially because we haven’t been in touch for years since high school. In the end, I decided to help, but only because it’s my duty as a Christian, not because I really wanted to. I think I did the right thing, but my motivation doesn’t make me feel good about it. Does that matte
SISTER KATIE MITCHELL: Oh gosh, I can identify with Maggie. You know, there are so many times when you need to do something, or you feel you’re obliged to do something. We’re never going to have perfect motivations, but you feel bad because you’re not doing it with all of your heart. What I do when I have situations like that, I try to be compassionate also with myself, because this is not an easy thing. If somebody you haven’t seen in a long time shows up asking for money, you want to help them. I might sit there and I say to myself, okay, I can be upset about this and give begrudgingly, or I can say, I’m going to choose to do this. And once you say to yourself that you’re choosing, it becomes a lot easier because you’re not putting up all of these walls and saying I really don’t want to do this. I choose to do this because I care about this person. Even if maybe I don't like what she’s doing or the way she’s doing it, I'm going to help anyhow. This is my choice. Do you feel like that sometimes, Ilene? It’s hard.
SISTER ILENE MCKENZIE: I was wondering-- was it when you gave me that money? Is this reminding you of that? (laughter)
SISTER JULIE: Yes, we heard you came into a lot of money there, Sister Katie. (laughter)
SISTER KATIE MITCHELL: Oh yes, as pastoral associate.... (laughter)
SISTER ILENE MCKENZIE: I had a mentor once and she would say to me, “You get to do your spiritual work when you do something you don’t want to do for the betterment of another person or for the greater good.” And the question, "Does God hate a grudging giver?" -- I don’t think God hates anything. The generosity of God is really beautiful.
SISTER KATIE MITCHELL: Yes, exactly.
SISTER ILENE MCKENZIE: This is a great thing for you to share with us, Maggie, because first of all, I think you did the right thing. You chose to be generous. You don’t feel so good about that, and I think that's an invitation to go to a deeper level. What is God showing you in this situation? What is God calling from you in this situation? You don’t feel comfortable with that. You could work with that by sharing that in prayer. Or in your wondering, spiritual direction is always a good place to go. Explore a little bit about your own motivations. And then there’s this piece — as Franciscans, one of our values is continual conversion. When we get a chance to see where our motives don’t really line up with our ideals, where it's glaringly evident, that is an invitation for conversion, and we can choose to do something, even when we don’t feel like doing it. When we’re aware of that kind of disconnect, or that inner tension, it’s a wonderful time to do some reflection on where God is calling you, perhaps for some conversion and for a deeper exploration of yourself, and to come into contact with the mercy that is there. Who knows what the situation was of Maggie's friend from high school. You don’t know that. Also, who knows what God may be calling you to in the future and how that might unfold, but just trust that you’re getting to know yourself better, and whenever we get to know ourselves better, then God is creating a better person in us.
SISTER MAXINE: And because "God calls us" — I think that sounds better than it feels sometimes.
SISTER MAXINE: We can be called to things that really confront us. And like Maggie — God bless you, Maggie for bringing the question — we can say, I’m looking at a part of myself that I really don’t care for. But until we can see that, maybe when God brings it before us, then we can make that change.
Hear the full episode of this podcast at AS182.
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