Does Your Life “Still Stink?”

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:38)

Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644), “The Tribute Money”
Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644), “The Tribute Money” (photo: Public Domain)

I’ve always loved John Holmes’ quote: “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” So, it seemed callous when someone posted an article on social media titled: Why I Stopped Helping People and You Should Too.

That sounded awful. Unchristian and heartless. I read it. It wasn’t so bad. The author warned against offers for a cup of coffee from people who want to “pick your brain” for free business advice which they usually don’t listen to anyways. She said to charge.

How crass! I thought. What about friendship and kindness? Then I considered all the times people have approached me for help with writing. It can be time consuming, and people are often starting from square one and need extensive help. I help here and there and if nothing else, I pray for them, but I’ve learned to be cautious about giving away more time than I can afford to.

But what about charity? In Mother Angelica’s book Mother Angelica's Answers, Not Promises she pointed out that just because an activity is an act of charity does not mean God is asking you to do it. She used the example of getting on the wrong plane (back in the day before everything was so carefully checked) and ending up somewhere she didn’t want to go. There was nothing wrong with the plane, but it was not her plane; it did not take her where she was supposed to go.

Such is life and spiritual discernment. It’s not an all or nothing endeavor but a walk with the Lord to know when we are being called to charity and when we are not.


Financial Success Stories

I scrolled down at other articles by this author, Cammi Pham, an e-commerce marketer and author at Medium. One caught my eye: Here Is Why Your Life Still (Stinks).

It began with a list of people who started out poor and ended up as billionaires. Defining success based on bank accounts would mean Mother Teresa and most of the saints were failures. Still, the list was impressive and included orphans, people who worked at minimum wage jobs for years and ended up multi-billionaires. I’d like to make more money. Instead, I made substantially less going from secular to Catholic writing, although I have no regrets since God pays in other ways.

Laden with my faith and philosophies, it’s easy for me to pull back from success stories related to making money. I must take care, however, not to be judgmental of all monetary success since people often use their money to do great good in the world. A favorite example of mine is Tom Monaghan, former owner of Domino’s Pizza and founder of Legatus, a Catholic organization for successful heads of businesses.


Success is Not Enough

Greed can be the death of a soul but even as we see through the eyes of faith, there is a secular world in which we live and work. As I read Pham’s article, I started to like it.

“It all starts with you,” she wrote. “Don’t be a victim. Don’t make excuses. People don’t care about your problems… It doesn’t matter who you are, there are always things you cannot control… Unsuccessful people focus on what they cannot control and blame their failures on others. Successful people focus on what they can control and blame their failures on themselves.”

Nice, I thought. The world really does not want to hear excuses even if you have some great ones. However, your life might still stink even after making a billion dollars. That is why I’m a Catholic writer. Not because I’m against money, but I get to include God when I write. Even after all the great advice on how to be a winner, money won’t buy you love, heal wounds, or make you holy. Only God can to that.

Amen to all of Pham’s sensible advice, but only if it is applied to living out God’s plan. That is the plan you should not make excuses for. With a strong prayer life, seeking God and his kingdom first, all else will be added unto you, and then, your life will not stink. Oh, it might have crosses, just as the richest guy in the world will, but it will not stink.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:38)