The pride that Rose Folsom felt in doing something good used to bother her until she discovered a way out.
The robin on the power line outside my window touts a worm in its beak. It doesn’t eat the worm right away, but thrusts it out, hopping this way and that. Trying to impress a girl, I guess.
The worm will be delicious, but showing off comes first. Look at me! I found this worm all by myself! Look what a good provider I'll be if you pick me for your mate!
Maybe we all do that sometimes—but it shouldn’t get us down.
When we do something good, like grabbing a paper cup from the sidewalk or helping someone with a door, we may realize later the pleasure we took in being seen doing it. Mixed motives like that used to bother me, like, can’t I just do one thing with a pure heart?
Well, no, I can’t. Our motives will always be mixed as long as we’re on this planet.
Jesus isn’t keen on people doing good things just for the admiration. But if we discover that our best motives are tinged with a little pride, there’s no reason to dwell on it if our intent is to do something good. And when we realize the mixed motive, it's a chance to ask God for more humility and generosity. Win-win!
After all, if we take pleasure in being seen helping someone out, we’ve just set a good example! And it’s actually a virtue to do things that are worthy of honor.
So I don’t see mixed motives as failures any more. Learning what is virtuous and asking for the grace to live that out every day gives me the peace of staying connected with Christ’s ultimate victory.
Copyright 2022 Rose Folsom
About the Author
Rose Folsom helps Catholics build a consistent and focused prayer life that gives them more clarity and peace. Her own prayer life started at zero as an adult convert, so wherever you are, she’s been there! Rose has helped over 6000 Catholics get closer to God with her talks, retreats, and writing. Register now for her free webinar, “3 Virtues Every Professional Needs,” at VirtueConnection.com.