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When ice cream doesn’t do the job

April 4th, 2014

It gets to a point in life that binge-eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby can only provide so much solace. Sure, the initial experience may be quite heavenly: the sensation of digging your spoon into the sweet and salty good goodness; smacking your lips together in satisfaction after the first few divine spoonfuls; curling under your fluffy zebra blanket, shoveling spoonful after spoonful into your mouth.

But, when you near the end of the container, and you begin to see the depressing, white papery bottom only fifteen minutes after swiping your Carroll Card at the Tween, you know it’s just downhill from there.

As you revel in those last few bites, you realize that in just a few minutes, you’re going to be ice cream-less, nauseous, fat and just utterly dissatisfied. (Our lactose intolerant friends may entirely regret the experience after realizing they’re going to spend the next few hours locked in the community bathroom).

Ice cream only provides instant gratification. Sure, it comes in handy when it’s 2 a.m. and you realize you have a 20-page paper on the Arab Spring due the next day. However, when life chucks about an entire stockroom full of lemons at your face, and you can’t find your juicer to make lemonade, it’s time to bring out the big guns.

Sure, you can choose to throw them back in life’s face. However, this is just fighting fire with fire.

There’s always the shot that life could get mad that you threw them back in its face.

No, you’re going to need backup.

It just gets to a point in life that you turn to the man upstairs. You know who I’m talking about: Yahweh, Allah, the Lord, the Big Guy – whatever you crazy kids call him nowadays.

Sometimes you just need Him. This could be my 16 years of Catholic education talking, but getting down on my knees, whipping out my prayer cards and just entirely surrendering myself to the guy in the big fluffy white clouds provides me with a sense strength.

This strength isn’t temporary. And, it usually doesn’t give you a stomachache or the runs.

This past weekend, I sat down at my kitchen table with my hair-disheveled, head in hands, sporting my brother’s old, worn-out St. Ignatius sweatshirt from the 1992 state football championship, comfy elastic pants with a giant whole in the derrière (I’ve worn those things to death). At that point, I just let whatever tears I had left from my whirlwind of a week stream down my face.

My dad went over to our fridge, and whipped out one of our Jesuit prayer of the month cards (courtesy of St. Ignatius High School). Yes, we are one of those families.

It was entitled the Prayer of Generosity, attributed to the man, the myth, the legend – Iggy of Loyola. And, if you would be so kind, dear friends, I would like to share it with you:

“Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.”

I stared at this for a brief moment, and then practically squealed.

Hey, St. Ignatius knew what was up.

In this moment of clarity, I realized this prayer is a guideline to how I want to live my life: To give and give, but never expect anything in return; to be wronged by others, but to pick up the pieces and have strength to move on; to work for the greater glory of God, and never rest doing it.

Okay, I understand if you’re not religious. To each his own. But, there is truth in the words even if you aren’t that tight with the man upstairs.

Be generous. Find a deeper meaning to life. Find a reason to give. And, when those hurt you, take a deep breath, move on and continue to give.