Let yourself alone

Daily Reading for August 26

I feel like writing you a rather bracing, disagreeable, east-windy sort of letter. When I read yours my first impulse was to send you a line begging you only to let yourself alone. Don’t keep on pulling yourself to pieces: and please burn that dreadful book with the list of your past sins! If the past really oppresses you, you had far better go to confession, and finish that chapter once and for all! It is emphatically your business now to look forwards and not backwards: and also to look forwards in an eager and optimistic spirit. Any other course is mere ingratitude, you know. . . .

Your responsibility ends when you have made sure that you are honest in will and intention, and are doing your best. There are no unbearable responsibilities in this world but those of our own seeking. Once life is realized as a succession of acts of loving service, undertaken in a spirit of joy, all that moonshine vanishes. . . .

People seem often to forget that Hope is a cardinal virtue necessary to salvation like Faith and Love: an active principle which ought to dominate life. I do think it would be so much better if you would go on quite simply and trustfully for a bit. After all, we value far more in our human relationships the sort of love that gives itself joyously and eagerly without introspection than the sort which is perpetually occupied with its own unworthiness or shortcomings.

From a letter to a friend dated May 30, 1907, in The Letters of Evelyn Underhill, edited with an introduction by Charles Williams (Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1943).

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