A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Please don’t thank me… Oh, all right

Bill Farrelly

by Bill Farrelly

DO YOU ever wonder why God is so slow in answering what seems a very worthwhile prayer? I have long requested that I might be less desiring of another’s gratitude, appreciation or affirmation.  So deaf does God sometimes seem to be, it’s as if he wants me to keep that hunger. But that makes no sense to me at all.

A psychologist might venture that these are normal desires and that everyone has them to greater and lesser degrees. She might also suggest that my seemingly excessive appetite may be due to a lack of nourishment at various vital periods of my life. She might be correct.

Even so, my life would be better now if I could shed this neediness. So, God, why does it continue to bug me?

Some of the most contented people are those who appear to be totally free of these traits. They seem to be blissfully unconscious of themselves and the pleasure and joy they give to others.

Couldn’t I be like that, too, God? Wouldn’t you prefer me to be more selfless? Or am I being neurotic?

No, I don’t believe so. Though I was once a perfectionist, I am not now. OK, I am not anywhere near as much of a perfectionist as before. And, as I have pointed out elsewhere, I now embrace my ordinariness. I don’t think, as I used to do, that I’m somebody special.

To be honest, I doubt I’m anywhere near as hungry as once I was but I still often catch myself thinking, I wish he/she would give me a pat on the back, or be a bit more grateful, or say I really appreciate your help.

And then I get annoyed with myself and annoyed with God and I tick him off for “allowing” those needy thoughts to come and niggle me again.

That’s one of the great things about God, don’t you find? You can say pretty much anything to him and then you can say, Well, perhaps I was a bit hasty, God. Sorry. Or you can say, as I often do, Give us a break, will you God; this is just too much.

They’re both prayers, by the way. Very informal, but prayers nonetheless.

It’s just occurred to me (I’m pretty slow at times as you might have noticed) that my desire for gratitude, appreciation and affirmation might be indicative of a lack of humility. That would make sense because quite often I have found myself asking God to help me become more humble.

Funny thing is, I never feel that I am a proud person. That in itself, of course, suggests a lack of humility, doesn’t it? Or does it? I’m quite confused.

Hero of MolokaiI really enjoy these conversations we have because, among other things, they take my mind off other matters, like loneliness and self-pity. Which reminds me, I recently finished reading the Hero of Molokai, by Omer Englebert, the story of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers.

I’m sure you know of him from your school days. It occurs to me that he was the Mother Teresa of his day. In fact, I wouldn’t mind betting that Father Damien inspired Mother Teresa.

Anyway, the point is he would’ve been the most selfless person on earth. The suffering he and his “children”, as he called the lepers, endured is unimaginable to me. You might recall that he, too, after some 16 years’ intimate contact, eventually and inevitably died of leprosy.

I cannot envisage that Father Damien ever fussed over a lack of appreciation or affirmation. He simply put his head down and his tail up and got on with it.

By the time you read this we will be celebrating the first anniversary of his canonisation. Deo Gratias.


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