There’s doing the right thing. And then there’s doing the right thing for the right reasons. Lately, it seems that I am being reminded of this important fact everywhere I go. As I mentioned earlier this week, one of the benefits of reading fiction is that it allows us to see things from different perspectives – from that of the characters, their setting and situations, and also from a big picture. That, in combination with a powerful message last week at Grace Church, has prompted me to more closely consider my motives and why I am doing some of the things that I am doing.
And I’m finding that sometimes this can be more insidious than it seems at first blush. I think we can all agree and probably recognize the times we or someone else have appeared to be doing good in a disingenuous or manipulative manner. But we can also very easily deceive ourselves into thinking that because what we are doing is objectively good, it’s good. However upon further inspection, this is of course may not always the case. I was particularly struck by Flannery O’Connor’s short story, The Lame Shall Enter First this past month since I could relate to Sheppard’s condition, which on the surface appeared to be a desire to help a young troubled boy. He ends up sacrificing all for him at the expense of neglecting his own son grieving the recent loss of his mother. Sheppard was sanctimonious, considering himself noble and his poor 10-year old son selfish as he devoted his time and resources to this juvenile delinquent whilst his son continued to “wallow” in mourning. But in the end, Rufus Johnson was not reformed and was taken away after a string of repeated lies and criminal offenses and Sheppard lamented the fact that he “had done more for him more than [he] had done for his own son” to no avail. Unfortunately, he reaches this revelation too late and all was lost. For him, doing good wasn’t really about doing good, but about allowing himself to feed own narcissistic savior complex. He missed the whole point, doing a potentially good thing, but not for the right reasons.
This idea has utility for me when I consider a variety of situations from the mundane to the more transcendental. I have a natural proclivity for being legalistic and strict. For me, doing or not doing XYZ is seldom the issue; it’s more about the motives and condition of my heart behind those actions. It takes effort to ensure that I remember to stay true to the spirit and intention rather than just following the letter of the law or doing what I “should” do. It’s easy to get wrapped upon in the things that don’t really matter and end up neglecting our real priorities. And as much of a habit fiend that I am, I recognize that this is potentially one of the dangers of a routine or automated response. We can get so caught up in doing something that we totally miss the point. Doing the right thing is not enough, it should be for the right reasons.
And so, I know that for me it at least, it’s important to continually revisit my why and purpose in anything so that I don’t become dogmatic, go on autopilot or fall into the trap of believing that if some is good, more is better (often it’s not). As this post goes live, I will have made it far across the pond to Salt Lake City for a Whole30 Coaches Summit which I am SO excited about! I believe strongly in the Whole30 because it has been designed to go beyond eating “this and not that” to address the psychology of food and eating. Although you can technically follow the Whole30 rules in terms of compliant ingredients, it’s when you follow the spirit and intention of the program that more long lasting and sustainable changes to your habits and relationship with food happen. Its not about losing 10 pounds, it’s not about becoming orthorexic. It’s about getting healthy and eating the right things for you, for the right reasons. And with just a little bit of creativity, this doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice. Real foods that are compliant in terms of the letter of the law and true to the spirit and intention of the program can be easy and delicious. Take this Whole30 Shrimp Pomodoro Pasta for example.
- Shrimp 10 oz (280 g)
- Zucchini/Courgetti, Spiralized 2 each
- Avocado Oil 2 TBSP
- Grape Tomatoes 1.5 cup (220 g)
- Tomato Paste .25 cup (55 g)
- Garlic Cloves, Minced 5 each
- Dried Oregano .25 TSP
- Sea Salt .25 TSP
- Basil, loosely packed and then chiffonade .25 cup (5 g)
- Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and heat 1 TBSP of the avocado oil in a saucepan over medium heat
- Add the tomatoes and allow to cook until they start to blister, but not totally break apart.
- Add the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and sea salt and allow to cook until reduced, about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Finally add the basil and stir to combine.
- In another pan heat the remaining 1 TBSP of avocado oil over medium heat. Then add the shrimp/prawns sautéing until cooked through. A helpful way I heard once to avoid overcooked shrimp is to think of them making a "C" shape when they are cooked and "O" for overcooked.
- Build your plates with the zoodles, then the shrimp, followed by the tomato sauce.