The phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished” is normally used to describe situations with more than a slight hint of sarcasm which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, the phrase is a sort of warning to those who, with every good intention and hopeful spirit, are doomed to suffer because of their helpfulness. It basically means that you will, in fact, encounter very mean, and despicable people who could care less about your efforts, motivations, and even goodwill if it only affects them. I bring this up today because recently, I had a Bible client in another state, who apparently lived alone and dreamed of owning a soft leather type cover Bible. Now there was no way we could send him anything like that, because of the expense, but I knew someone who had one on their shelf and would possibly want to part with it.
Over the next 48 hours, the man who desperately (and I thought sincerely) wanted his own personalized, precious-looking Bible and I immediately began a conversation as to what his “Dream Book” would look like, everything from the color to the large print. He seemed genuinely excited and appreciative that is, of course, until the Bible arrived, which of course I paid for and even the shipping. Five days later, in a one sentence text, he sent the detached, almost hateful message that in no uncertain terms that he didn’t like it, that he didn’t want it, and that he was going to give it away. My response, quickly dispatched for fear of thinking up something sarcastic and mean to write, was summarized in two words, (and not the two words you’re thinking!): “Thanks. Bye.” Although the experience sounds petty, almost sadistic, certainly Neanderthal, something deep went off inside of me. After offering a much-needed prayer of begging for peace in my soul, I painfully realized that I could count on more than one hand the number of times I really try to be nice to certain people with the only result of having my hand slapped away or my motivation or effort disparaged and seen as nothing.
And this is why I am writing you today, wanting lovingly and hopefully to share with all of you the irony that you and I face every day with people who “don’t get it.” They’re ungrateful, unappreciative, sometimes entitled, very spoiled adults. Recently, a friend of mine who works in another agency with counseling and therapeutic issues as I do, remarked somberly that the percentage of people who carry varying and disturbing levels of arrested development today are much more than we would like to admit. You have grown people acting like crazy and adolescent and deeply immature spoiled children trapped in adult-grown bodies. He offered me a way to really see what is happening in these encounters. He said to take the actual human age and multiply it by .3 and then you will see the emotional age of the person in front of you. And you know it actually works! It just underlies and helps understand the strange irony in life and perhaps lessen the hurt and anger it causes. Remember, this is not personal.
Why are people like that? Why don’t people say thank you? Why is it always about them? And then I remember it’s not about them, it’s about us. In my office there are two people who work in close proximity, and I like to bring them a bottle of water from the somewhat distant kitchen area in our office building. One day another coworker saw me do this and said, “you don’t have to do that for them, they can get it themselves!” And I looked puzzled at them and said, “I’m not doing it for them. I’m doing this for Jesus.” You see, this is what the Lord expects from all of us, to continually anticipate each other’s needs. Why is that so foreign? And the only answer is that selfishness and arrested development, especially on the spiritual and emotional levels, are out of control. What are we to do?
Right before I began writing this latest blog post for you, my friends and I were watching 80-year-old clips of short movies starring Laurel and Hardy. After some curious research online, I came across an interesting prayer. It’s simply called the Clown’s Prayer, which apparently the comedian Chris Farley carried in his wallet. And you know it made a lot of sense! I am not suggesting that we should dress up and put little red balls on our nose, and wear big shoes and sport bright paint and all that other business, although I do understand the philosophy of Patch Adams in this regard. Is it possible that we are all clowns for God, not in the way that a circus clown would act, but, aren’t we here to lighten the loads and do what we can to bring happy memories in the spirits of those around us? And I don’t mean please them in a codependent sort of way, but bringing brightness into a cold, dark room seems to be a great spiritual target. Can we possibly leave a place or situation better than we found it? I think so.
Finally, I’d like you to read the Clown’s Prayer now and think about it. If there’s any kind of comment that you can share with our readers, please leave it at the end.
I want to make God smile, don’t you?
As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more happiness than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.
Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders
in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.
Never let me forget that my total effort
is to cheer people, make them happy,
and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.
And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”
The Clown’s Prayer (Author Unknown)Share your thoughts (19 thoughts)