Ed. Note: this article was originally presented as a sermon in April of 2008 at the UU Church of the Palouse in Moscow, ID, and was rewritten for publication in JRH in April, 2010.
Often I have faith in myself to do the right thing to make a difference and I do it. But not always. I can’t always do it. I cannot do all that has to be done and often what I can do, I cannot do perfectly. If what I can will myself to do is responsible for creating a good life and world, than what I do does matters tremendously, and it matters much more than I can deliver.
Many times I do not do what I know I should do. We all have these experiences. We decide to lose weight, but eat cake the very day we make the decision. We decide to live in gratitude, but find ourselves wishing for an air conditioner or a different car. We decide to live in love, but find ourselves judging a difficult person. We decide to change the world, but do little of significance.
Other times I don’t know how to do what I know I should. Does anyone really know the correct way to raise a child or deal with a challenging family member? Or the best way to spend time and money to end the pain of a suffering world?
I’m also certain that sometimes I act in ways that hurt myself and the world, ways of which I’m not even conscious… What do I do at these moments? Where do I turn? What guides my actions? Faith in myself provides no guidance. I simply feel guilty, hopeless and paralyzed. To respond effectively to the world and live with hope, I need something more.