This week was the last in my four-part sermon series on Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.
For this blog to make the most sense, you may want to visit (or revisit) the previous three posts! All four agreements work in our lives to help us be the beings of light and love that we are deep inside. These agreements help us to shed the layers of programming, triggers and baggage that hide our authentic selves. This is the spiritual journey.
The First Agreement was Be Impeccable With Your Word toward yourself. Love yourself and stop the negative self-talk that so many of us have running in our minds. The Second Agreement was Don’t Take Anything Personally. If people are aiming poison, angry words, negative behavior toward us, it is about them, not us. The Third Agreement was Don’t Make Assumptions; have the courage to ask clarifying questions and to let people know what you need. Finally, we are on the last agreement, Always Do Your Best.
(For the full audio version, click here.)
Always do your best… it is an adage we’ve probably heard from the time we were little, but did we corrupt the adage? Did it become colored by other unhealthy agreements that we’ve made with ourselves. Has it turned into… “Do your best because if you fail you clearly did not do your best”? Or “Do your best, but if you make a mistake then it just proves you aren’t good enough”? Or “Do your best, even if it means killing yourself to succeed.
We need to leave this agreement in it’s pure form, uncorrupt by previous agreements we try to tack onto it. Always do your best… period.
The biggest positive about always doing our best is that it leaves us without regrets. There is nothing to beat ourselves up over, no negative comment we can take personally if we know that we have truly done our best. At the last church I served, I had resigned six months before I could actually leave, so I spent six months preaching to a number of people who didn’t want me there anymore. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I made the agreement with myself that I wasn’t going to just check out. I was still going to preach the best I was able. From what people told me after we started Sacred Journeys, I know that I wasn’t in top form. But I have no regrets about my performance, because I consciously did the best I could do.
On the flip side, I know there are other things in my past that I didn’t do or handle as well as I could have. From what I can deduce looking back, my only reason for that is fear or not caring. I could have gotten better grades in high school, but I simply didn’t care so much. And there were many times when I could have handled a conflict in a relationship better, but I was afraid. I made the assumption that it was going to go badly and I didn’t have the courage to try.
Still, this agreement is less about justifying the past and things that have happened, and more about how we live each moment from here on out. How will we give ourselves to each task, to each relationship to each situation?
If we give ourselves fully to each moment, then we give ourselves fully to our friendships, our partners, our children, our parents. We commit to give them the best we have – not for reward, but because it is an agreement we have made with ourselves to live the best we can.
Doing our best becomes a ritual. Whether we are taking care of our bodies, working at our jobs or shopping for a gift… we are giving ourselves to the moment, fully and authentically.
Always doing your best is what makes the other agreements work. We can’t expect to be perfect. There will be times when we won’t be impeccable with our word. Some things are so programmed in our heads that it is hard to get them out. But we can do our best. There will be times when we take things personally, but we can do our best. And, we will still make assumptions, but we can do our best.
As we do our best we will get better at all of these things, and the times we fall into those old agreements will be fewer and fewer. We will live our lives with more love, more joy and less drama!
This is a path of transformation.
Ruiz says we need a very strong will to honor these agreements. He’s right. They aren’t easy. They take constant self-awareness and a commitment to this path. But most of the folks I know aren’t lacking in the “strong will” department. You can do it.