About Those High Standards


Readings like today’s—the ones that urge us to go above and beyond—give me a little bit of a guilt complex.

Saint Paul, who authored the First Reading, might’ve had a ton of zeal and passion, but my personality is quite the opposite. I always start out well with really good intentions or commitments, but I usually get overwhelmed or distracted or lose motivation somewhere along the way. And slowly but surely those good intentions trail off into the sunset.

As such, all the many standards of goodness and righteousness that Saint Paul sets forth in the First Reading can seem a heck of a lot more daunting than desirable.

I’m no certified teacher. Who am I to instruct others? I’m definitely not admirably domestic, or always sensible, or even always kind (or patient). So who am I to be “bidding” others to act perfectly when I myself struggle so much and so often miss the mark?

But after reading a little deeper, I think that Saint Paul is entreating us to actually help a sister (or brother) out. To keep each other accountable in a loving “I-want-the-best-for-your-soul and I-need-you-to-help-me-too” way, not a Judgey McJudgerson way.

I may not be a teacher, but I can read appropriate articles and encyclicals that establish a coherent understanding of my faith (and spread it to others) instead of just cowering behind another uninformed media headline. When I’m feeling especially domestically challenged, I can set a timer for a 15-minute challenge to get just one thing done (and see if anything else follows!). If I’m feeling more grumpy than kind, I can write down my frustrations and literally place them at the feet of Jesus (under the small statue in our home) to offer my trivialities for the good of others—and hopefully turn my attitude around as well. And in general, when I’m struggling most, I can be honest with those who know me best so I can get both the right kind of accountability and the necessary love and support.

When we make even a slight effort to form ourselves in those areas that Saint  Paul encourages, we create a small ripple in our little circle of the world, which ultimately elevates all of us closer to the God who made us. And even though Saint Paul’s prescription for sainthood may seem like a tall order at first, it’s actually a prescription for making this way of life—a way  that’s so good for our souls—more attainable for ourselves and more accessible to others. God intended for all of us to be saints, and He wants that universal call to be attainable! We just have to want it.

I’m going to try to want it more today. Will you commit to wanting it with me?

 Let’s look at Saint Paul’s list and ask ourselves which virtuous action stands out the most (or makes us cringe most)? How do you think God is asking you to address or adjust that area of your life? Let’s be accountable to each other and resolve together to work on that one thing He’s trying to point out!

Will you commit to one small change today with me? If so, leave a comment below with what you choose!


Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and former soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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