Victorious Livingby J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
Now about your work and your chief. I know it is not easy for you. I have a number of young friends in editorial offices, and more than one of them has come to me with the same complaint that your letter brings. I wish that men were all more gentle. In my Thanksgiving sermon, I told the people that brusqueness is not only discourtesy, but is even a sin. We have no right to speak harshly, rudely, bitterly, to anyone — however faulty the person may be, or for failing in any duty. Beginning with the fathers, and going up through teachers and employers, and those placed above others in any way — one of the finest marks of manliness is gentleness to those under one’s authority. But we cannot make every man just this sort of person. We have to accept life as it comes to us.
Let me tell you what your part is. You have given yourself to Christ, and you want to learn the beautiful lessons of Christian living. If I put all my thought in a single sentence it is this — that you, as a Christian, should live your life sweetly and beautifully — however other people about you may live. Rudeness, roughness and unkindness by others, may make it hard for you, but, however hard it is — you are going on in a loving way, keeping sweet, answering gently, not resenting anything, never returning unkindness for unkindness — but the reverse — kindness for unkindness, gentleness for roughness.
When you read the Sermon on the Mount, in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew, you will find the way your Master wants you to live. You say, “Yes — but it is terribly hard to do this.” I know it is. It will not be possible always to keep back the tears when the sharp words fall upon your heart. Still, that is the lesson. You are not to grow cold and stoical, letting your feelings be hardened and your heart become bitter. I have seen fresh water springs bursting out on the beach of the sea, their waters as fresh as the waters that pour from the little fountains among the rocks on the hills. Presently the tide comes in, and for twelve hours the brackish waters pour over the little springs. But all the while, if we could get down to them — we would find the water just as sweet as it was when the tide was out. Then when at last the salt waters do withdraw, we find our springs just as sweet as they were before, untainted by the bitterness of the sea. This is an illustration of what I want your heart to be. You may hear unkind criticism and unreasonable criticism, and you will sometimes want to respond badly — but do not grow bitter. Let no resentment start in your heart. Whatever others may do about you, however unkind they may be — you are to keep love in your heart all the while.
This is the secret of happiness. We always feel ashamed of ourselves when we get angry and return to others what they have given to us of unkindness. Nothing is sweeter than the consciousness that we have endured wrong, injury — and have kept sweet through it all. “But,” you say, “how can I?” The Christmas lesson will help you to learn how. Let Christ into your life as your truest and closest Friend. When you read your New Testament you will find that this is just the way he lived. He was wronged, suffered all kinds of injury, and at last was nailed to the cross — but you cannot find a single bitter word through it all. His heart was sweet with love. Even when they were putting him on the cross, he prayed to the Father to forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing. Christ wants to enter your life — as the sunshine enters the diamond, making it shine.
Perhaps I have given you a hard lesson. I know it is ideal, and you cannot reach it in one day or one month, or even fully in one year. But you can begin to learn the lesson. That is all I want to have you to do. When you read this letter, kneel down by your bedside and give yourself to Christ. You know how much interest I have in you — how I love you and want to help you. But think of this as only a mere hint of the far greater love that Christ has for you, and the deeper desire in his heart to make you strong and victorious.
Have you thought that perhaps the reason why the Master sent you into your editorial office, is just that you may learn to be a Christian woman? I am learning more and more, that that is what life here means. You are not there merely to write a page a day, and to do a certain amount of work in your office. But you are there in that office, to grow into a Christian girl and woman. That is just why Christ sent you there. If everything were sweet and easy, and every bit of work you did received commendation and compliment — you would be made happier — but I think you see that you would not be enjoying the opportunity to grow in certain phases at least of your life, that you are now having. If you can live victoriously through all the experiences that you have to meet these days, you will be growing far more as a woman, as a Christian woman, than if you were having an easy time, with only gentleness and love about you. Think of this therefore.
Henry Drummond said something like this — that the carpenter is not in his shop to make certain things in wood — but he is there to grow into strong, true, noble manhood. You are in your office not primarily to do a certain amount of editorial work as well as you can — you are there to become more and more Christlike. Years hence, when you are an older woman and have cares and responsibilities, you will know that when you thought you were badly used, when you cried from the rebuffs and the brusqueness and the unkindly criticisms — you were really learning more and growing more than in any other period of your life.
You understand that I want you to stay just where you are, to do the very best work you can, to learn the things you have not yet learned, and to overcome whatever defects or imperfections you may find in your education and training; and, whatever the experiences may be, to meet them quietly, bravely, cheerfully, and even songfully — in a word, living victoriously, keeping sweet through all.
Begin every morning with a special prayer that God will help you that day, first, to do your work well; second, to grow in patience and to bear whatever you have to bear without bitterness; and, above all, never to be discouraged, never to be defeated. Then at the close of each day you can come to the Master’s feet and tell him that you have done the best you could, have tried not to be impatient.