Three More Little Words UPDATED

In the post below, we look at Three Little Words — “Don’t be afraid” — that we should perhaps use to begin more of our sentences.

Here are three other words, that perhaps should end more of those sentences: “Pay it forward.”

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“Don’t be afraid; pay it forward.”
It’s almost the perfect one-sentence summary of the Gospel.

And here are a few more words, from both my mom and Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes:

“God is never outdone in generosity.”

This is true. I know this to be true in my life. When times have been tough, and it felt a little scary to help someone else out from my own depleted funds, I trusted it: God is never outdone in generosity.”

You share what you have, you always get back what you need. Always. Always. Always:

When you are feeling afraid, an action denoting trust always makes you feel less fearful and more powerful, whether it is praying for another or writing a check for $20.00 that you suspect you may need, yourself, down the road. It is an action that helps one get in touch with the wider world, and with feelings of selflessness, engagement and wisdom. It’s like shoring up for hard times – filling the corn cribs, so to speak – for the famine on the horizon.
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And, after you’ve made a donation, find someone who needs your prayers, and pray for them. Even if you really can’t afford to give so much as a dime to charity, you can always pray. Prayer is a subversive liberty; it is freedom because no one can touch it, monitor it or forbid it. Or tax it, spend it or waste it. So pray for someone, or some group. Commit to it. You will feel better. I promise, you will. Don’t be afraid.


Don’t be afraid to help someone else out, even if it feels scary.
God is never outdone in generosity. Even if you’re not sure you believe it right now, choose to trust it.

With trust, comes power, but not as the world understands it.

UPDATE I: Thomas L. McDonald at State of Play blog with a clever kind of “pay it forward.”

UPDATE II: You’re only defeated when you decide to believe you are

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • James

    I need to take this to heart. I’ve clearly become too jaded lately.

    Thank you for posting this Anchoress.

    BTW: What is that Gospel picture? Who is the man facing away from Christ in the foreground? And where can I find a bigger version of it?

  • http://nunspeak.wordpress.com Sr Lisa Marie Doty (@Sr_Lisa)

    Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for writing this reminder for all of us. I must be thinking along the same lines, having written a post at the beginning of the week that starts out, “God’s generosity cannot be out-done. It is overflowing. Abundant. Without measure…”

    http://nunspeak.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/god-cannot-be-out-done/

    Enjoy. God bless!

  • James

    Oh wait, that “man” is actually the widow from the story of the Widow’s Mite.

    *duh*

    I’m slow today…..

  • James

    And I just figured out that the picture was drawn by Gustave Dore. That’s what I suspected. I love his work.

  • TXRed

    Ask me to give and I will consider it. Ask me to help and I’ll try to find a way. Ask me to pray and you’re on my list. But ask me to “pay it forward” and I will shut my ears and wallet because too often that phrase comes with the demand that I feel guilty for something, including (in one case) having been born. It has happened so often that I can’t hear the phrase without cringing inside.

    [I have never experienced it that way. Sorry that you have. admin]

  • jkm

    TXRed, how sad to have had “pay it forward” used as a guilt inducer. I’ve never experienced it that way–entirely the opposite, as a matter of fact. In my all-too-common experience it is a statement of faith and trust that, while someone who is helping me right now understands that I am not and may never be in a position to pay him or her back, I will at some time be able to return the favor by giving without strings to someone else similarly impoverished (in spirit, in love and comfort, in the necessities of life). I don’t like the way the phrase has become a kind of sentimental cliche, but I do believe its intent is to provoke gratitude, not guilt. Maybe I am feeling that particularly intensely this week because I have had an experience of being delivered undeservedly and joyfully from what seemed set to be a ruinous situation, and I am delighted to take on the task of paying forward what I cannot possibly pay back. Grace, as Elizabeth notes, is the ultimate example of a debt that must be paid forward, by sharing the abundant riches God has given us with others. One gesture in that direction will be to pray that you, TXRed, will be repaid with generosity for the hurt you have endured at the hands of the guilt inducers.


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