Whatever you do, do it well

A phrase that I have heard many times during my childhood is: “If you do things badly, it will turn out badly.” It probably seems obvious or redundant, but I bet we’d be surprised to see how often the reason something turned out badly is precisely because we did it badly.

Doing something well means… doing it well, truly. It’s not just making it look like I did it well, but actually doing it well. Take Our Lady for example. She is the perfect model for this. When I think about what she would have done in my position, I’m always surprised that, first of all, I know what she would have done, second, I know how she would have done it, and third, I realize that I’m doing it badly.

Order is a huge factor in this: material order, but also spiritual and temporal order. If someone really wants to do something well, they put their whole heart into that one thing, and only that one thing. Dedicating yourself to something means putting everything you’ve got into it; your heart has to be in it. You have to want to do it and not want to get distracted by anything, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

I’m sure that the Blessed Virgin Mary put all her heart, her mind and her will into what she was doing, even the littlest things, so that they would always turn out the best that they could.

Material order goes hand in hand with this, because if I start to do something and everything around me is disordered, I probably won’t do it very well, and it will take longer. I can’t imagine the Blessed Virgin Mary picking up Jesus’ room while she was trying to pray with Him. Plus, I’m sure Jesus would have kept his room neat and organized. How can we expect something to turn out well if we don’t dedicate ourselves to that one thing?

I’m sure she cleaned when it was time to clean, and not when it was time to do something else. Sometimes it’s difficult to do what you should do when you have to do it. We’d rather play a little more and then eat dinner later, or not study now but rather get up early the next morning to do it. But we know that never works (especially the latter).

We have to maintain a certain order in how we use our time. Don’t stress yourself out thinking about other things. What I have to do right now is what I have to do, and not something else, because the Lord wants me, right now, to do what He’s asking of me right now, which is the best things for me right now in this moment, even if I want to do something else, which is probably something worse.

For this reason we have to learn to persevere. God falls in love with perseverance because it shows that we truly love Him. Perseverance means you love God always, and not just once in a while. If we don’t have order in what we do we won’t be able to persevere, because we would only be making half an effort in what we do.

Everything - from my job to my marriage - sooner or later, in one moment or another, can leave us feeling empty, but this doesn’t mean I have to leave it. On the contrary, this is the moment to truly love in what I do.

To do things well means to worry about the little details. We make excuses for ourselves too much, saying that this detail doesn’t matter, it’s not important, it’s not going to affect anything… this all comes from our laziness. But look at Our Lady, look and see how she does worry about the little details. She doesn’t do things half way. She doesn’t leave things unfinished because that would mean that she didn’t do it well. When I’m cleaning up my room there is usually a little part that I didn’t finish. It could be my belts, my shoes, my books…

The cure: do things with love; do it as if everything depended on it. I bet Our Lady did everything with so much love and selflessness that we can’t even put it into words. Everything she did was an act of pure love. Think about how she must have picked up St. Joseph’s shop, putting all his tools in their spot, cleaning the sawdust out of all the corners, even the most hidden ones, how she cleaned off the table… It made St. Joseph so happy, and it made God even happier, because love isn’t so much about doing big things rather doing the daily things with love - love in everything: from cleaning bathrooms to doing your work. Even when we think it just affects us, it’s not true.  It still affects others.  So, put all your love and will into it. We can’t let ourselves be led by what we like or don’t like because maybe today we will do it well because we feel like doing it, but tomorrow we will do it badly because we don’t feel like doing it anymore.

To some, this might seem to be the most difficult, but precisely for that reason it is also the most important. Love is an act of the will. I’m sure Our Lady sometimes didn’t feel like doing certain things but she submerged herself in that task out of love.

Be obedient. The majority of the things we don’t like to do or that we do badly are things we didn’t choose ourselves. But have you ever thought the God himself acts through those who are in authority over us? We could say that God is sending me to do this right now and that’s why we should do it the best we can.  What would Mary do? Would she say “no”?

Don’t do things just out of routine. Each act has to be done with fervor, as if it were the first time we did it. Living things just out of routine kills us because we don’t see the meaning in what we do, we lose love and it turns into a burden. We have to have the gaze of a child, that even after having done something a repeated number of times can still live it with the same joy as if it were the first time. A child looks for and finds new delight in what he does and nothing seems boring to him. So, why do we lose this enthusiasm?

Sometimes we think that our salvation depends on us doing apostolate, going to Mass, praying the rosary…etc. And yes, it does depend on this, but the rest of my time…. how am I spending the rest of my time? Our salvation depends on all our actions. Go to Nazareth and spend a day there. Learn from Jesus’ hidden life and how our salvation started.