Mother Elisabeth Sinclair
Sep 21, 2021
“The Ideal Person”
When I was little, my girlfriends and I played a game known by many names, where we folded paper into pieces to create an origami fortune teller (https://www.wikihow.com/Fold-a-Fortune-Teller). As one player wielded the fortune teller mechanism, the other player could pick numbers and colors to learn the name of the boy they would some day marry, the style of car they would drive, the number of children they would have, the style of home they would own, etc. We played this for hours, imagining our futures and idealizing the mate we hoped to some day have.
I don’t remember us ever spending much time considering what kind of woman or partner we wanted to be. The Scriptures from this past Sunday depict honorable figures who worry less about finding ideal people or fixing the imperfect ones around them and more about cultivating integrity and generosity in their own lives. This is such an important key to peace in human relationships.
The woman in Proverbs 31 invests her time and energy in doing what she can, what is within her power. She uses her own hands, feet, mind, and skills, all to express her awe and wonder of God and to care for the people entrusted to her. The people extolled in Psalm 1 choose to steer clear of destructive influences, instead delighting in and meditating on God’s goodness, justice, mercy, and following God’s instructions. The Letter of James characterizes wise and understanding people as those who practice congruence between their inner and outer lives and who resist selfish ambition at others’ expense. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus reverses the common social order by showing that the least among us are often the ones most aligned with his nature, and those who serve and welcome the least are the greatest.
Life has more peace and joy when we concern ourselves with being the kind of people who do the loving and generous acts within our power to do rather than finding or making others into an idealized image of what we wish they were.